“In Oklahoma, nearly 30 percent of confirmed child abuse and neglect cases also had reports of domestic violence in the house.
A mother’s history of substance abuse and an unknown father — or many father figures — ups the chance for abusing a child. Neglect is more likely in families with a disabled child who doesn’t do well in school and has an uninvolved mother.
Advocates have always said these social problems are linked. Now, a University of Oklahoma researcher can say it for certain, backed by statistical data.
Associate professor of human relations Jody Worley has been giving presentations to interested audiences about a study he conducted analyzing Tulsa County cases of substantiated child abuse and neglect.
Last week, he was a featured speaker at an event sponsored by the Child Protection Coalition on the University of Tulsa campus. A panel discussion followed with representatives from several nonprofits working with at-risk families and abused and neglected children.
Only about 20 people attended. Maybe because it was scheduled on Election Day. Or perhaps there were just a lot of PTA meetings and baseball games happening.
But more people should have been there. Here is a bit about what was said.
Risk factors: In the research, Worley collected case-record information from the state Department of Human Services and met with workers in focus groups.
“I wanted to bring data to life, but you can’t do that because data are boring,” he said. “But I realize you see lives through the data. You need data to see the people. … We need a better understanding of the lives behind the data — of lives before the data are collected.”
Risk factors being tracked came largely from the industry-recognized Adverse Childhood Experience study, which is an ongoing, large-scale research project of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente in San Diego.
Worley was able to put odds on the risk factors to gauge which ones may be more of a red flag than others. These statistics are specific to the Oklahoma and Tulsa cases.
Researchers, and common sense, say as more stressors pile onto a family, the likelihood of abuse and neglect is higher.
There were some differences between abuse, neglect and sexual abuse.
A mother’s history and behavior factored into each, but it was more of an effect in physical abuse along with the influence of men and a child’s temperament. Factors with a heavy impact on neglect were a mother’s lack of interest and a child’s inability to speak up.
Commonalities in sexual abuse cases were a mother who was molested, a child with mental health disorders or a difficult demeanor and the presence of a stepfather.
This is not painting all stepfathers with a broad brush, but it is put into context with other stressors.
Among the findings that stand out: 27 percent of cases had co-existing domestic violence and a lack of prevention services.
“It is easier to report abuse and neglect than it is to find support before abuse and neglect occurs,” Worley said. “What we do is respond to cases. The system reacts.
“There needs to be a change in the way we think about prevention, children and rights of children. It needs to move from individuals reacting to a community preventing. It needs a shift in public policy to focus on treatment, early intervention and prevention.””
Read the entire Tulsa World article written by Ginnie Graham by clicking HERE, published on April 10, 2016.
Dr. Jody Worley shares his research.
CPC Panel of Experts (left to right) Kelly Mounce – Indian Health Care Resource Center, Crystal Brill – DVIS, Ginnie Graham (Moderator) – Tulsa World, Rose Turner – Child Abuse Network, Christine Marsh – Family & Children’s Services