Magazine article USA TODAY

Influence of Poverty on Child Abuse

Magazine article USA TODAY

Influence of Poverty on Child Abuse

Article excerpt

Decades of studies have established a strong link between poverty and child abuse, but identifying connections is only half the battle, as uncovering root causes is a key aim of child maltreatment research. A set of studies by researchers from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, attempts to get at the causal mechanisms behind the economic factors that strongly are associated with child maltreatment, either as a risk factor or an outcome.

"When people think about child abuse and neglect, they tend to focus only on deficiencies in parenting behaviors, and not a broader set of stressors that can create or exacerbate risk for children," says Kristen Slack, professor of social work. "Poverty and economic hardship need to be systematically considered in our efforts to prevent maltreatment or lessen its consequences. For some families, economic support can make a meaningful difference in whether children experience harm."

The studies reveal some common threads. Researchers found economic factors often play a large role, but income alone does not explain the poverty-abuse relationship. …

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