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Welcome to the database of past Child-Maltreatment-Research-L (CMRL) list serve messages (10,000+). The table below contains all past CMRL messages (text only, no attachments) from Nov. 20, 1996 - September 14, 2018 and is updated quarterly.

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Message ID: 8371
Date: 2010-02-02

Author:Finkelhor, David

Subject:NIS-4 commentary

The Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4) just released its findings. It shows that in the period from 1993 to 2005/6 the annual rate of sexual abuse declined substantially (44% under the “Harm” Standard (HS) and 47% under the “Endangerment” Standard, a more liberal definition of child maltreatment). The rate of physical abuse declined as well (down 23% under the HS and 29% under the ES). The rate of emotional abuse declined 33% under the HS and 48% under the ES. Interestingly, the rate of emotional neglect ROSE 83% under the ES. These findings provide some additional perspectives on the question of whether various forms of child maltreatment have been declining since the early 1990s. First, it adds one more set of data showing declines in physical and sexual abuse during this period, adding to data from NCANDS, the National Crime Victimization Survey, and the Minnesota state student survey. You can see Finkelhor & Jones (2006) for a summary of this evidence. Second, it undercuts explanations for the decline in NCANDs data hypothesizing that CPS agencies have changed the way they count, define or investigate abuse. Since majority of the maltreatment cases in NIS are from community sentinels and the study uses rigorous definitions to evaluate each case, it shows that the decline is not about CPS agency behavior. Third, it undercuts explanations for the decline in NCANDs data that say that professionals have become more reluctant to report abuse to CPS. Sentinels could tell the NIS study about cases and not report them to CPS without any risk. The sentinels did fail to report a lot of abuse to CPS, but they also were encountering a lot less, as well. It still could be the case that professionals have gotten jaded and are not noticing as much physical and sexual abuse. Fourth, the NIS researchers do provide some support for the idea that neglect has failed to decline in NCANDs data at least in part because of an expansion of interest in children exposed to domestic violence and parental drug usage as forms of maltreatment. According to Andreas Sedlak in her presentation in San Diego the big reason for the expansion of neglect rates was sentinels seeing more children exposed to domestic violence and parental drug usage. She believes this is likely a change in awareness, especially since data from sources like NCVS show a decline in actual domestic violence. Note also if professionals have been willing to expand their notion of child maltreatment to include exposure to DV, this does not really jibe very well with the idea that they have gotten too jaded to notice as much physical and sexual abuse. It suggests if anything a greater vigilance. Overall, the NIS findings seem to me to contribute to the evidence that physical and sexual abuse did decline for an extended period from the early 1990s to the mid 2000s. You can find the executive summary and full NIS-4 report here: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/abuse_neglect/natl_incid/index.html Other discussions about the decline can be found here: http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/Trends/index.html David Finkelhor Crimes against Children Research Center Family Research Laboratory Department of Sociology, University of New Hampshire Durham, NH 03824 Tel 603 862-2761* Fax 603 862-1122 email: david.finkelhor@unh.edu SAVE THE DATE International Family Violence and Child Victimization Research Conference July 11th - 13th 2010 - Sheraton Harborside Hotel, Portsmouth NH Submit your Abstract at www.unh.edu/frl/conferences Abstract Submission Deadline February 27th 2010 E-mail: frl.conference@unh.edu My new book has been released. Click on it for more details and to order. http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/ http://www.unh.edu/frl/

The Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4) just released its findings. It shows that in the period from 1993 to 2005/6 the annual rate of sexual abuse declined substantially (44% under the “Harm” Standard (HS) and 47% under the “Endangerment” Standard, a more liberal definition of child maltreatment). The rate of physical abuse declined as well (down 23% under the HS and 29% under the ES). The rate of emotional abuse declined 33% under the HS and 48% under the ES. Interestingly, the rate of emotional neglect ROSE 83% under the ES. These findings provide some additional perspectives on the question of whether various forms of child maltreatment have been declining since the early 1990s. First, it adds one more set of data showing declines in physical and sexual abuse during this period, adding to data from NCANDS, the National Crime Victimization Survey, and the Minnesota state student survey. You can see Finkelhor & Jones (2006) for a summary of this evidence. Second, it undercuts explanations for the decline in NCANDs data hypothesizing that CPS agencies have changed the way they count, define or investigate abuse. Since majority of the maltreatment cases in NIS are from community sentinels and the study uses rigorous definitions to evaluate each case, it shows that the decline is not about CPS agency behavior. Third, it undercuts explanations for the decline in NCANDs data that say that professionals have become more reluctant to report abuse to CPS. Sentinels could tell the NIS study about cases and not report them to CPS without any risk. The sentinels did fail to report a lot of abuse to CPS, but they also were encountering a lot less, as well. It still could be the case that professionals have gotten jaded and are not noticing as much physical and sexual abuse. Fourth, the NIS researchers do provide some support for the idea that neglect has failed to decline in NCANDs data at least in part because of an expansion of interest in children exposed to domestic violence and parental drug usage as forms of maltreatment. According to Andreas Sedlak in her presentation in San Diego the big reason for the expansion of neglect rates was sentinels seeing more children exposed to domestic violence and parental drug usage. She believes this is likely a change in awareness, especially since data from sources like NCVS show a decline in actual domestic violence. Note also if professionals have been willing to expand their notion of child maltreatment to include exposure to DV, this does not really jibe very well with the idea that they have gotten too jaded to notice as much physical and sexual abuse. It suggests if anything a greater vigilance. Overall, the NIS findings seem to me to contribute to the evidence that physical and sexual abuse did decline for an extended period from the early 1990s to the mid 2000s. You can find the executive summary and full NIS-4 report here: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/abuse_neglect/natl_incid/index.html Other discussions about the decline can be found here: http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/Trends/index.html David Finkelhor Crimes against Children Research Center Family Research Laboratory Department of Sociology, University of New Hampshire Durham, NH 03824 Tel 603 862-2761* Fax 603 862-1122 email: david.finkelhorunh.edu SAVE THE DATE International Family Violence and Child Victimization Research Conference July 11th - 13th 2010 - Sheraton Harborside Hotel, Portsmouth NH Submit your Abstract at www.unh.edu/frl/conferences Abstract Submission Deadline February 27th 2010 E-mail: frl.conferenceunh.edu My new book has been released. Click on it for more details and to order. http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/ http://www.unh.edu/frl/