Sunday, June 21, 2009

Child Abuse Reports Increased in New York

The number of child abuse reports made to Child Protective Services in New York State increased by 6% from 2007 to 2008. There were 154,837 child abuse reports made statewide in 2007. Last year the number jumped to 163,808.

A few counties experienced a decrease. One of those was Albany County which experienced a 3% drop in reports of child abuse. Fulton County, on the other hand, saw a 22% jump. Other counties near Albany experienced an increase as well. Montgomery County reports went up by 11%, Rensselaer County by 8.5%, Saratoga County 8%, Schoharie County by 5%, Schenectady County by 3.5% and Greene County by 1%.

Fulton County now leads New York State in the number of child abuse reports per 1,000 population, with 20 per 1,000. Fulton County replaces Schenectady County which led the state in 2007 with 17 child abuse reports per 1,000.

It's difficult to say what is driving the increase in child abuse reports. Some people say the poor economy is causing more child abuse. But Fulton County only experienced a slight increase in unemployment between 2007 and 2008 according to New York State Labor Department statistics.

The factors that cause child abuse to increase and the factors that cause an increase in reporting are not necessarily the same. An increase in reporting does not necessarily mean that there is an increase in abuse. Raised awareness and new legislation are just two factors that may cause an increase in the number of reports. On average 2/3 of all reports are unfounded, therefore it is inaccurate to assume that the number of reports is synonymous with the number of actual cases of abuse.

According to Prevent Child Abuse New York, the risk factors and causes of abuse are immaturity and unrealistic expectations, unmet emotional needs, the stresses of child care, economic crisis, domestic violence, lack of parenting knowledge, difficulty in relationships, depression or other mental health problems, and drug or alcohol abuse.

From 2002 until 2006 the number of child abuse reports in New York State dropped. There were 153,646 reported cases in 2002 and 139,169 in 2005. In 2006 the numbers jumped to 158,860 and then fell again in 2007 to 154,837. While the increase from 2007 to 2008 was 6% statewide, the increase from 2005 to 2008 was 18%, a significant increase.

Statistics for 2009 are not yet available.

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