Sunday, May 6, 2012

Child Abuse Rates

There was an attempt in the last legislative session to increase the penalty for failure to report child abuse from misdemeanor to felony.  Various legislators were reluctant, for various reasons, to do so.  In the ensuing commentary on the Idaho Statesman article about this, one of the leftists wrote:

Idaho's high incidence of child abuse is in direct proportion to it's right wing redneck values. Case in point; Sheryl Nuxol oppossed this bill as a "thought crime", much like she opposed bullying legislation because it is "best left to communities to deal with" presumably because it works so well now.
The difficulty with this claim is:

1. Different states have different reporting methodologies.  This report explains that different states have different standards for reporting child abuse.  For Idaho, level of evidence required is "preponderance." A number of other states require only "credible."  Kansas requires "clear and convincing."  

2. There are differences in the definition of abuse.  Kansas, for example, includes "lack of supervision."  As this report points out, every state has its own definition of child abuse (although there are federal standards as well).  This makes direct comparisons necessarily problematic.

3. If Idaho is exceptionally severe in its child abuse problem, it isn't showing in the admittedly problematic child abuse statistics.  Table 3-6 in this report shows child abuse victimization rates by state. Again, Idaho is low: 9th from the bottom, with 3.8 abuse reports per 100,000 children. I won't claim that political ideology determines abuse rates, like the commenter I linked to above falsely claims, but you can see the falsity of his single-factor claim when you see how many liberal-controlled jurisdictions have much higher abuse rates: California, 8.1; Connecticut, 12.4; District of Columbia, 23.4; Illinois, 8.3; Massachusetts, 17.0; New York, 17.4. , 

4. The far less problematic (in terms of what is being measured) child abuse fatality rates (Table 4-1 in this report) shows that Idaho's rate was 0.48/100,000 children; liberal California was 1.27/100,000 children; liberal Vermont was 3.17.  The national average was 2.07/100,000 children--so Idaho is one of the lowest child abuse fatality rates in the nation.  The only states that I could find with lower child abuse fatality rates for 2010 were Alaska, Montana, and Maine.

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  1. Clayton, you wrote: The far less problematic child abuse fatality rates ...

    I assume that you meant that the statistics themselves were less "problematic" in that the definition is - obviously - more concrete. But I suspect that someone unsympathetic could misinterpret that sentence against you.

  2. Yes, I have added in an explanation.

  3. One word: Control
    That's all these sort of "crimes" are about. Making it a crime to fail to report is idiotic. Not everyone is terribly observent of or even aware of what the state thinks child abuse might or might not be.

    Same with hate crime, bullying or any of the others that require the thinking process of the person committing said crime to be disected. These are all about control.

  4. Well, on this topic generally, "There are" (as the saying goes, attributable to different people), "lies, damned lies, and statisticts".

    The left so loves to outlaw hate speech. Why wasn't what that commenter said hate speech? It would have been easy to see it as such, had the words "right wing redneck" been replaced by anything implying leftist values, i.e. "bleeding heart drug addled communists", or the use of cross-hairs or even a big red X to indicate "targeted" leftists.