Child Abuse and Neglect in Military and Non-Military Families: An Analysis of the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 2000-2003 Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Rentz, Ericka Danielle
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Epidemiology
  • Context: The impact and stress of war extend beyond the military soldier to include emotional upheaval for his or her family, yet little is known about how war affects the occurrence of child maltreatment in families. This study is the first to use data from a national surveillance system to compare child maltreatment in military and non-military families. Further, it is the only known study to characterize military perpetrators of child maltreatment and to examine the effects of the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the occurrence of child maltreatment. Objective: The first objective of this study was to determine if being a child in a military family is protective of, or a risk factor for, substantiated child maltreatment. The second objective was to assess the impact the attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the subsequent US military response had on the occurrence of substantiated child maltreatment in military families. Methods: This study is a secondary analysis of the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System that incorporates state-level information from the US Census Bureau and the Department of Defense to calculate and compare the rates of occurrence of substantiated maltreatment in children of military and non-military families. All reports of child maltreatment in the state of Texas that received a disposition of substantiation from January 1, 2000 through June 30, 2003 were the focus of these analyses. Texas was iv selected because of the completeness and quality of its NCANDS data and its large military population. Results: The rate of occurrence of substantiated child maltreatment in military families is generally lower than that of non-military families. However, the rate doubled when comparing the period after October 1, 2002 to the period before. The periods with the highest rates of child maltreatment corresponded to intense military operations in Iraq, the highest percentage of departures to operational deployments, and the lowest percentage of returns from operational deployments. Conclusion: Compared to children of non-military families, children of military families generally experienced lower rates of child maltreatment. However, this protective effect seemed to disappear when military combat increased and military families experienced operation-related deployment.
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  • Marshall, Stephen
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