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Message ID: 8591
Date: 2010-08-27

Author:Poha Kane

Subject:Re: New bulletin: Updated Trends in Child Maltreatment, 2008

Yes, I've observed this same phenomena. Are we though sure that reporting methods, political pressures, economic impact on research funding, do not end with the trending downward as a result, rather than an actual reduction? Legislatures across the U.S. reflect in their decisions the wishes of their constituents. If spending money on research comes under public scrutiny and other agendas pull funding away from research there is a chilling effect on reporting. In addition those very people I mentioned in my reply to the announcement of Dr. David Finkelhor's book release, those naysayers on child abuse, have become increasingly a factor in politics. They lobby, they manipulate data into claims that are not supported by that data, they misrepresent at ever possible turn. My point, and implicit in my questions, is that there are factors that may not have been considered in the analysis and methods of collection and that must be examined. How reports are taken is critical, and has been changing over time. How interviewed subjects, or agencies and persons respond when interviewed or data is accumulated has changed as well. During a period of time just prior to the trending down years reporting was not only more acceptable it was more encouraged and even considered a duty. This is no longer true. The changing ethic demographic in the U.S. and resultant cultural mores about family and child rearing and involvement with government agents has changed drastically. More families are more closed to community and society. I do not believe you are seeing so much a skepticism as the knowledge in those you observe that something is very wrong with this trending downward number and rate. If the population of reportable targets is growing rapidly enough, rates are dropping even if numbers are the same. The locked in death rate to me is an indicator of this very possibility. As I said earlier, deaths are much harder to conceal than abuse. This does not, of course, mean that deaths aren't still be concealed, only that abuse rates dropping then is highly suspect as a claim. I have sat in the hot line office of a state's largest CPS district listing to incoming calls being responded to. The kinds of reports that were triaged out were chilling. Even reports that I would have considered "imminent risk of endangerment," were being referred to non investigative support agencies. That state two years ago released to the media the admission they were not open investigations on half of the incoming hot-line calls that they would have formerly sent workers out to interview. The pressure on the public not to report has gone up considerably I believe. The risk of the wrath of the alleged perp aside, the risk of suit is very real - and I think suit is becoming more common, including against the agencies as well as those that chose to report, not withstanding that there is some protection in law for those reporting. It might protect them from criminal action against them, but not civil suit. What is the growth, for instance, in attorneys that specialize in family court cases? I know the answer to that, of course or would not bring it up. States have become a little treasure trove for those willing to bring suit - have chosen, through their attorneys general to simply settle out of court rather than incur the expense of defense. They have a formula, and the attorney's know it well, some of them having interned at states attorneys generals offices. Everyone is tiptoeing about, and this reported downward trend in abuse is a tool for those that argue for less money and reduced agencies for child protection is simply one more of their arguments. I'm not in tears, or even almost, but I am frustrated and in fear for children with this situation and the part that reporting of child abuse data that confounds what people in the field are seeing has and means for our society. Please give more consideration to the possibility that child advocacy center person's reaction as being based on facts she observes in her daily work. She likely is looking at the numbers of cases as well as the nature of those cases. Abuse continues to become more horrific as well as more frequent in number of victims and number of times each victim is abused. Have you not questioned the reported downward trend yourself? How would you account for a steady number of deaths (not just the rate) from year to year while abuse rates seemly dropped? Why has the CAN death rate not followed the downward trend? Please revisit the continuing examination of the finding as it is far more important overall than the skepticism in those on line and in the field where abuse happens. Poha On 8/27/10, Chaffin, Mark J. (HSC) wrote: > Re: decreases in physical and sexual abuse rates. > > In studies using law enforcement data, I've observed similar declines in > child sexual abuse cases involving nonfamilial and unrelated perpetrators. > These cases don't involve CPS policies, and don't involve family pressures > to retain a breadwinner during hard times. The trajectory of the decline in > these separate data sets and different kinds of reports (often non-CPS > cases) over the past decade and a half parallels what was seen in the CPS > report data. > > In my career in child abuse research, I can't recall seeing very many > research findings that seem to evoke such skepticism as research suggesting > that abuse rates are declining. I firmly believe that skepticism about > research findings is a good thing, but I'm intrigued about why so much > skepticism about this now almost two decade long finding. As a > psychologist, the really interesting research question to me is becoming the > reaction of our field to this finding, more than any more examination on the > finding itself! I recall recently sharing this finding with a person from a > rural child advocacy center (who had never heard anything about it) and she > was almost in tears with distress. > > Mark >

Yes, I've observed this same phenomena. Are we though sure that reporting methods, political pressures, economic impact on research funding, do not end with the trending downward as a result, rather than an actual reduction? Legislatures across the U.S. reflect in their decisions the wishes of their constituents. If spending money on research comes under public scrutiny and other agendas pull funding away from research there is a chilling effect on reporting. In addition those very people I mentioned in my reply to the announcement of Dr. David Finkelhor's book release, those naysayers on child abuse, have become increasingly a factor in politics. They lobby, they manipulate data into claims that are not supported by that data, they misrepresent at ever possible turn. My point, and implicit in my questions, is that there are factors that may not have been considered in the analysis and methods of collection and that must be examined. How reports are taken is critical, and has been changing over time. How interviewed subjects, or agencies and persons respond when interviewed or data is accumulated has changed as well. During a period of time just prior to the trending down years reporting was not only more acceptable it was more encouraged and even considered a duty. This is no longer true. The changing ethic demographic in the U.S. and resultant cultural mores about family and child rearing and involvement with government agents has changed drastically. More families are more closed to community and society. I do not believe you are seeing so much a skepticism as the knowledge in those you observe that something is very wrong with this trending downward number and rate. If the population of reportable targets is growing rapidly enough, rates are dropping even if numbers are the same. The locked in death rate to me is an indicator of this very possibility. As I said earlier, deaths are much harder to conceal than abuse. This does not, of course, mean that deaths aren't still be concealed, only that abuse rates dropping then is highly suspect as a claim. I have sat in the hot line office of a state's largest CPS district listing to incoming calls being responded to. The kinds of reports that were triaged out were chilling. Even reports that I would have considered "imminent risk of endangerment," were being referred to non investigative support agencies. That state two years ago released to the media the admission they were not open investigations on half of the incoming hot-line calls that they would have formerly sent workers out to interview. The pressure on the public not to report has gone up considerably I believe. The risk of the wrath of the alleged perp aside, the risk of suit is very real - and I think suit is becoming more common, including against the agencies as well as those that chose to report, not withstanding that there is some protection in law for those reporting. It might protect them from criminal action against them, but not civil suit. What is the growth, for instance, in attorneys that specialize in family court cases? I know the answer to that, of course or would not bring it up. States have become a little treasure trove for those willing to bring suit - have chosen, through their attorneys general to simply settle out of court rather than incur the expense of defense. They have a formula, and the attorney's know it well, some of them having interned at states attorneys generals offices. Everyone is tiptoeing about, and this reported downward trend in abuse is a tool for those that argue for less money and reduced agencies for child protection is simply one more of their arguments. I'm not in tears, or even almost, but I am frustrated and in fear for children with this situation and the part that reporting of child abuse data that confounds what people in the field are seeing has and means for our society. Please give more consideration to the possibility that child advocacy center person's reaction as being based on facts she observes in her daily work. She likely is looking at the numbers of cases as well as the nature of those cases. Abuse continues to become more horrific as well as more frequent in number of victims and number of times each victim is abused. Have you not questioned the reported downward trend yourself? How would you account for a steady number of deaths (not just the rate) from year to year while abuse rates seemly dropped? Why has the CAN death rate not followed the downward trend? Please revisit the continuing examination of the finding as it is far more important overall than the skepticism in those on line and in the field where abuse happens. Poha On 8/27/10, Chaffin, Mark J. (HSC) wrote: > Re: decreases in physical and sexual abuse rates. > > In studies using law enforcement data, I've observed similar declines in > child sexual abuse cases involving nonfamilial and unrelated perpetrators. > These cases don't involve CPS policies, and don't involve family pressures > to retain a breadwinner during hard times. The trajectory of the decline in > these separate data sets and different kinds of reports (often non-CPS > cases) over the past decade and a half parallels what was seen in the CPS > report data. > > In my career in child abuse research, I can't recall seeing very many > research findings that seem to evoke such skepticism as research suggesting > that abuse rates are declining. I firmly believe that skepticism about > research findings is a good thing, but I'm intrigued about why so much > skepticism about this now almost two decade long finding. As a > psychologist, the really interesting research question to me is becoming the > reaction of our field to this finding, more than any more examination on the > finding itself! I recall recently sharing this finding with a person from a > rural child advocacy center (who had never heard anything about it) and she > was almost in tears with distress. > > Mark >