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Child-Maltreatment-Research-L (CMRL) List Serve

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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: 8600
Date: 2010-08-27

Author:Julia Littell

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

Interesting. Recent declines in reporting and other measures of child maltreatment may be part of the much longer (centuries old) trend toward decreases in overall violence toward women and children. This trend is slow, sporadic, sometimes cyclical (see Linda Gordon's Heroes of the Own Lives) but it has been persistent over the decades. Remember the "rule of thumb"? This rule referred to the size of the stick a man could use to beat his wife (the stick could not be thicker than the man's thumb). Now that idea is so foreign to us that most people don't even know the origin of the expression. It wasn't until 1974 that rape within marriage first became illegal in the US, and states were required (by federal law) to respond to reports of child maltreatment. Recent declines in child abuse and neglect might also represent growing popular awareness of issues in child development (the diffusion of theory and research from recent decades), and the more general notion that childhood is a special time and children should be a protected. Witness the extension of the child-rearing period with many families with the "failure to launch" or early return of young adults. (I don't think this phenomenon is explained by economics alone.) Progress may be slow, but we should celebrate it! Julia On Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 9:41 AM, 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 -- Julia H. Littell, Ph.D., Professor Graduate School of Social Work and Social Welfare Bryn Mawr College 300 Airdale Rd. Bryn Mawr, PA 19010, USA

Interesting. Recent declines in reporting and other measures of child maltreatment may be part of the much longer (centuries old) trend toward decreases in overall violence toward women and children. This trend is slow, sporadic, sometimes cyclical (see Linda Gordon's Heroes of the Own Lives) but it has been persistent over the decades. Remember the "rule of thumb"? This rule referred to the size of the stick a man could use to beat his wife (the stick could not be thicker than the man's thumb). Now that idea is so foreign to us that most people don't even know the origin of the expression. It wasn't until 1974 that rape within marriage first became illegal in the US, and states were required (by federal law) to respond to reports of child maltreatment. Recent declines in child abuse and neglect might also represent growing popular awareness of issues in child development (the diffusion of theory and research from recent decades), and the more general notion that childhood is a special time and children should be a protected. Witness the extension of the child-rearing period with many families with the "failure to launch" or early return of young adults. (I don't think this phenomenon is explained by economics alone.) Progress may be slow, but we should celebrate it! Julia On Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 9:41 AM, 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 -- Julia H. Littell, Ph.D., Professor Graduate School of Social Work and Social Welfare Bryn Mawr College 300 Airdale Rd. Bryn Mawr, PA 19010, USA