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Social Problems

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Becky Pettit

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Pamela QuirozNilda Flores-Gonzalez

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The Economic Environment of Child Abuse

Candace Kruttschnitt, Jane D. McLeod, Maude Dornfeld
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3096935 299-315 First published online: 1 May 1994

Abstract

One of the most frequent and controversial claims made in the child abuse literature is that poverty increases the risk for child abuse. However, virtually no research has gone beyond measuring either child abuse or poverty at one point in time, despite the dynamic nature of both of these experiences. Based on 185 substantiated cases of physically abused youth, this paper examines whether poverty persistence is a significant predictor of both severe and recurrent child abuse. Results indicate that these relationships are more complicated than previous research leads us to believe. Persistent poverty has no significant effect on the severity of abuse and the observed relationship between current poverty and severity is eliminated once race is controlled. Moreover, while poverty persistence is significantly related to recurrent abuse, virtually all of this effect appears to be explained by factors associated with the stress of economic deprivation.