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

Database of Past CMRL Messages

Welcome to the database of past Child-Maltreatment-Research-L (CMRL) list serve messages. The table below contains all past CMRL messages (text only, no attachments) from Nov. 20, 1996 - December 22, 2017 and is updated quarterly.

Instructions: Postings are listed for browsing with the newest messages first. Click on the linked ID number to see a message. You can search the author, subject, message ID, and message content fields by entering your criteria into this search box:

Message ID: 8600
Date: 2010-08-28

Author:Murray A. Straus

Subject:RE: New bulletin: Updated Trends in Child Maltreatment, 2008 were anticipated in 1985 and greeted skeptically

Twenty five years ago Richard Gelles and I published a paper showing a decrease in the prevalence of child physical abuse as measured by our 1975 National Family Violence Survey and the replication of that survey in 1985. The decrease seemed totally inconsistent with the large annual increases in Child Protective Services cases during that same decade. However, we argued that the two results were complementary not inconsistent. We further argued that the increases in CPS cases represented a growth in interventions, to combat child abuse, not a growth in prevalence. We suggested that those interventions were one of the causes of the decrease in prevalence found by our surveys. However, when we presented the results at the National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect in 1985, the audience booed. The Child Protection Report headlined our presentation as "Gelles Study Strikes Discordant Note" (22 November 1985. p. 3) and reported that child protection advocates were angered at our findings because they feared the sharp decrease in rates of child abuse might undercut support for child abuse programs. Our interpretation was the opposite. We suggested that if we had found no change, the many critics of the child abuse effort could argue that 10 years and millions of dollars of public and private funds had been wasted. The results were published the next year in Straus, M. A., & Gelles, R. J. (1986). Societal Change and Change in Family Violence From 1975 to 1985 as Revealed by Two National Surveys. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 48, 465-479. In that article, we described many changes in American society that might have also have contributed to the decrease in physical abuse, such as the later age at marriage, later age at birth of first child, and fewer children per couple. In 1992 Glenda Kantor conducted another national survey using the same instrument to measure physical abuse (the Conflict Tactics Scales) and found further decreases. See Straus, M. A., & Kaufman Kantor, G. (1995, November). Trends in physical abuse by parents from 1975 to 1992: A comparison of three national surveys. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Boston, MA. For the Conflict Tactics Scales, see Straus, M. A., Hamby, S. L., Finkelhor, D., Moore, D. W., & Runyan, D. (1998). Identification of child maltreatment with the parent-child Conflict Tactics Scales: Development and psychometric data for a national sample of American parents. Child Abuse and Neglect, 22, 249-270. Murray A. Straus Professor of Sociology and Co-Director Family Research Laboratory University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824 603-862-2594 Fax: 603-862-1122 murray.straus@unh.edu Copies of many of my papers and some out-of-print books can be downloaded from my website http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2 . For information about the Family Research Laboratory, conferences, and bibliographies of publications by members of the laboratory log into www.unh.edu/frl From: bounce-6221079-6832966@list.cornell.edu [mailto:bounce-6221079-6832966@list.cornell.edu] On Behalf Of Chaffin, Mark J. (HSC) Sent: Friday, August 27, 2010 2:41 PM To: 'Child Maltreatment Researchers' Subject: New bulletin: Updated Trends in Child Maltreatment, 2008 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

Twenty five years ago Richard Gelles and I published a paper showing a decrease in the prevalence of child physical abuse as measured by our 1975 National Family Violence Survey and the replication of that survey in 1985. The decrease seemed totally inconsistent with the large annual increases in Child Protective Services cases during that same decade. However, we argued that the two results were complementary not inconsistent. We further argued that the increases in CPS cases represented a growth in interventions, to combat child abuse, not a growth in prevalence. We suggested that those interventions were one of the causes of the decrease in prevalence found by our surveys. However, when we presented the results at the National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect in 1985, the audience booed. The Child Protection Report headlined our presentation as "Gelles Study Strikes Discordant Note" (22 November 1985. p. 3) and reported that child protection advocates were angered at our findings because they feared the sharp decrease in rates of child abuse might undercut support for child abuse programs. Our interpretation was the opposite. We suggested that if we had found no change, the many critics of the child abuse effort could argue that 10 years and millions of dollars of public and private funds had been wasted. The results were published the next year in Straus, M. A., & Gelles, R. J. (1986). Societal Change and Change in Family Violence From 1975 to 1985 as Revealed by Two National Surveys. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 48, 465-479. In that article, we described many changes in American society that might have also have contributed to the decrease in physical abuse, such as the later age at marriage, later age at birth of first child, and fewer children per couple. In 1992 Glenda Kantor conducted another national survey using the same instrument to measure physical abuse (the Conflict Tactics Scales) and found further decreases. See Straus, M. A., & Kaufman Kantor, G. (1995, November). Trends in physical abuse by parents from 1975 to 1992: A comparison of three national surveys. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Boston, MA. For the Conflict Tactics Scales, see Straus, M. A., Hamby, S. L., Finkelhor, D., Moore, D. W., & Runyan, D. (1998). Identification of child maltreatment with the parent-child Conflict Tactics Scales: Development and psychometric data for a national sample of American parents. Child Abuse and Neglect, 22, 249-270. Murray A. Straus Professor of Sociology and Co-Director Family Research Laboratory University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824 603-862-2594 Fax: 603-862-1122 murray.strausunh.edu Copies of many of my papers and some out-of-print books can be downloaded from my website http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2 . For information about the Family Research Laboratory, conferences, and bibliographies of publications by members of the laboratory log into www.unh.edu/frl From: bounce-6221079-6832966list.cornell.edu [mailto:bounce-6221079-6832966list.cornell.edu] On Behalf Of Chaffin, Mark J. (HSC) Sent: Friday, August 27, 2010 2:41 PM To: 'Child Maltreatment Researchers' Subject: New bulletin: Updated Trends in Child Maltreatment, 2008 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