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Addiction. 2012 Oct;107(10):1786-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2012.03917.x. Epub 2012 May 17.

Alcohol's involvement in recurrent child abuse and neglect cases.

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1
Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia. anne-mariel@turningpoint.org.au

Abstract

AIMS:

This paper examined whether or not: (a) care-giver 'alcohol abuse' is associated with recurrent child maltreatment; (b) other 'risk factors' affect this relationship; and (c) which of alcohol abuse or other drug abuse plays a stronger role. It also examined (d) how children and families where alcohol-related child abuse was identified were managed by child protection services (CPS) in Victoria, Australia.

DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS:

Using anonymized data from Victorian CPS, repeat cases were examined involving 29 455 children identified between 2001 and 2005.

MEASUREMENTS:

Carer alcohol abuse, other drug abuse, mental ill-health, carer experience of abuse as a child, child age and gender, family type, socio-economic variables and level of child protection service intervention as recorded in the CPS electronic database were examined as risk factors for recurrence, using bivariate and multivariate techniques.

FINDINGS:

Almost one-quarter of children in CPS experienced a recurrent incident of child maltreatment in a 5-year period. Where carer alcohol abuse was identified children were significantly more likely to experience multiple incidents compared with children where this was not identified (P < 0.001), as were children where other family risk factors (including markers of socio-economic disadvantage) were identified. The majority of children whose carers were identified with alcohol abuse experienced either repeat incidents or interventions (84%), although almost three-quarters of these children were managed without resort to the most serious outcome, involving court orders.

CONCLUSIONS:

Alcohol and drug abuse in carers are important risk-factors for recurrent child maltreatment after accounting for other known risk factors; the increased risk appears to be similar between alcohol and drug abuse.

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