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Child Abuse Negl. 2000 Sep;24(9):1151-62.

Changes in reports and incidence of child abuse following natural disasters.

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Department of Sociology, University of Hawaii at Hilo, 96720, USA.



The aim of this research was to investigate if there is a higher incidence of child abuse following major natural disasters.


Child abuse reports and substantiations were analyzed, by county, for 1 year before and after Hurricane Hugo, the Loma Prieta Earthquake. and Hurricane Andrew. Counties were included if damage was widespread, the county was part of a presidential disaster declaration, and if there was a stable data collection system in place.


Based on analyses of numbers, rates, and proportions, child abuse reports were disproportionately higher in the quarter and half year following two of the three disaster events (Hurricane Hugo and Loma Prieta Earthquake).


Most, but not all, of the evidence presented indicates that child abuse escalates after major disasters. Conceptual and methodological issues need to be resolved to more conclusively answer the question about whether or not child abuse increases in the wake of natural disasters. Replications of this research are needed based on more recent disaster events.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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