Changes in reports and incidence of child abuse following natural disasters

Department of Family, Consumer, and Human Development, Utah State University, Logan, Ohio, United States
Child Abuse & Neglect (Impact Factor: 2.47). 10/2000; 24(9):1151-62. DOI: 10.1016/S0145-2134(00)00176-9
Source: PubMed


The aim of this research was to investigate if there is a higher incidence of child abuse following major natural disasters.
Child abuse reports and substantiations were analyzed, by county, for 1 year before and after Hurricane Hugo, the Loma Prieta Earthquake. and Hurricane Andrew. Counties were included if damage was widespread, the county was part of a presidential disaster declaration, and if there was a stable data collection system in place.
Based on analyses of numbers, rates, and proportions, child abuse reports were disproportionately higher in the quarter and half year following two of the three disaster events (Hurricane Hugo and Loma Prieta Earthquake).
Most, but not all, of the evidence presented indicates that child abuse escalates after major disasters. Conceptual and methodological issues need to be resolved to more conclusively answer the question about whether or not child abuse increases in the wake of natural disasters. Replications of this research are needed based on more recent disaster events.

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    • "The increase in non-inflicted TBI was attributed to increases in the risk associated with driving, environmental hazards, lodging displacement, and a hypothesized decrease in the quality of adult supervision (19, 20). In a similar study, child abuse was observed to increase following Hurricane Hugo and the Loma Prieta Earthquake but no changes were found in abuse patterns following Hurricane Andrew (21). "
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    ABSTRACT: The prevention and treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) attributable to rapid-onset natural disasters is a major challenge confronting disaster preparedness planners and emergency medical personnel responding to those incidents. The kinetic energy released by rapid-onset natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes or typhoons, and tornadoes can cause mild, moderate, or severe TBIs. As a result, neurotrauma is a major risk factor for mortality and morbidity outcomes within the spatial domain impacted by a rapid-onset natural disaster. This review article elucidates major challenges associated with immediate emergency medical response, long-term care, and prevention of post-event increases in pediatric TBIs because of child abuse when rapid-onset natural disasters occur.
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    • "Specifically, Keenan et al5 found that rates of intentional child traumatic brain injury increased in the 6 months post Hurricane Floyd. Similarly, Curtis et al.6 found that following 2 of 3 disasters studied, the incidence and confirmation of child abuse reports was higher 3 and 6 months following disaster. Children who experience maltreatment or abuse are at great risk for deleterious behavioral, academic, psychological and health problems.7–10 "
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    ABSTRACT: Child maltreatment (CM) is a significant public health problem that increases following natural disasters. Ecological approaches have been used to study these complex phenomena, and the current research fits within this perspective by conducting qualitative interviews with disaster response and family-serving community agencies. The purpose of the study was to identify whether or not community agencies identified CM as an issue that is relevant for disaster planning and response and their perspectives on risk and protective factors for CM risk following disaster. Agencies (n=16) from 2 geographical areas participated - one that recently experienced a natural disaster (Louisiana (LA), n=7) and one that had not (Georgia (GA), n=9). Agency representatives completed semi-structured telephone interviews (n=16) and follow up in person focus groups (n=14). Theory-driven, thematic analyses were completed. Results suggested that community agencies agree that post-disaster environments increase the risk for CM and that CM prevention has a role in disaster response planning. Risk and protective factors were identified according to Bronfenbrenner' s ecological framework. Study results support the need to include CM prevention efforts within disaster planning and provide guidance for future research to inform such efforts.
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    • "Noting feelings of frustration and powerlessness that accompany disasters, Curtis and colleagues (2000) studied child abuse rates in disaster-affected communities following several events. They found increased rates following some disasters but, due to a number of limitations, their study failed to establish a definitive connection between child abuse and disasters. "

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