• September 2012
  • Vol. 13, No. 8

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Comparing CAN in Rural and Urban Areas

Certain child and family characteristics make cases of abuse and neglect more likely to be substantiated—or confirmed—by child protective services (CPS) in rural versus urban settings, according to a new issue brief by the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. Using data collected in 2008 and 2009 for the second National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW II), researchers found many similarities in confirmed cases across settings. However, cases of abuse and neglect with the following three characteristics were more likely to be confirmed in rural than in urban areas:

  • Children age 11 or older (35 percent of rural cases confirmed versus 23 percent of urban cases)
  • Parents experiencing cognitive impairments or domestic violence (72 percent of rural versus 54 percent of urban cases)
  • Families with income greater than 200 percent of the Federal poverty level (36 percent of rural versus 26 percent of urban cases)

The authors explain that abuse and neglect confirmation often affects whether families will receive support services, but that most children with reported cases experience the same outcomes regardless of confirmation. Therefore, professionals should strive to provide similar services to families with unconfirmed cases in order to improve child outcomes and reduce risks for another report. Because CPS agencies in rural settings often are challenged by finding and keeping skilled workers and providing services across long distances, the issue brief concludes with recommendations for service providers in those areas.

Understanding Child Abuse in Rural and Urban America: Risk Factors and Maltreatment Substantiation, by Wendy Walsh and Marybeth Mattingly, is available on the Carsey Institute website:

http://www.carseyinstitute.unh.edu/publications/IB-Walsh-Child-Abuse-Substantiation.pdf (605 KB)

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