Nav: Home

Seasonality of child abuse a myth

June 21, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - A new study of homicides of 797 children younger than age five has found that these deaths occur uniformly throughout the year, dispelling the widely held anecdotal notion that the winter months, and especially winter holidays, are a time of increased child abuse.

"The seasonality of child abuse is clearly a myth," said Antoinette Laskey, M.D., M.P.H, associate professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, who led the study.

"We looked at the statistics of fatalities related to child abuse in geographically disparate states to see whether or not there were any patterns and there were none. As we noted in our study, it is possible that the reason child abuse is believed to increase during the holidays is because an abused child seen on a memorable day like Christmas may be easier for a healthcare provider to recall because of the association with the holiday," said Dr. Laskey, who is a Riley Hospital for Children physician.

The study is the first of its size to use death certificate data to explore the question of seasonality of child homicide. It appears in the July 2010 issue of The Journal of Pediatrics and is now available online.

Data from Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Oklahoma and Washington were analyzed for seasonal effect in the years 1999-2006. Children were found to be equally at risk of homicide death during any month of the year. Two-thirds of the deaths were in children younger than two years old.

"Since there is no reason to believe that child abuse deaths occur at differing rates throughout the year, it is important to keep in mind that prevention should be a year round effort. The fact is common stressors on caregivers, like crying, toileting accidents and normal childhood behavioral issues such as temper tantrums happen all year long. We need to teach caregivers how to respond better to these issues," said Dr. Laskey.
-end-
In addition to Dr. Laskey, who is a Regenstrief Institute affiliated scientist, co-authors of the study are Jonathan D. Thackeray, M.D., The Ohio State University College of Medicine; Sophia R. Grant, M.D., University of Oklahoma College of Medicine and Patricia G. Schnitzer, Ph.D., Sinclair School of Nursing, University of Missouri.

The IU School of Medicine, Riley Hospital and the Regenstrief Institute are located on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Indiana University School of Medicine

Related Child Abuse Articles:

Study raises concern of significant under-reporting of child abuse within US Army
Only 20 percent of medically diagnosed child abuse and neglect cases in US Army dependent children had a substantiated report with the Army's Family Advocacy Program, which investigates and treats child abuse.
Artificial intelligence toolkit spots new child sexual abuse media online
New artificial intelligence software designed to spot new child sexual abuse media online could help police catch child abusers.
UAlberta & Little Warriors change the trajectory of child sexual abuse victims
The University of Alberta and Little Warriors have announced the highly anticipated preliminary results of the clinical trials performed at the Little Warriors Be Brave Ranch, confirming that the four-week intervention program significantly reduces the psychological impacts of child sexual abuse.
Reporting all FGM in the UK as child abuse may not be the best way to reduce prevalence
A multifaceted approach of training health workers, educating at-risk woman and incorporating mandatory screening for female genital mutilation (FGM) risk factors during antenatal care may be more effective than mandatory reporting of FGM as child abuse, according to Maria Luisa Amasanti, from the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, UK, and colleagues in an Essay published in this week's PLOS Medicine.
Child abuse contributes the most to mental health problems in the Canadian Armed Forces
Among the mental health disorders reported in the Canadian Armed Forces in 2013, 8.7 percent of the burden of illness was attributed to Afghanistan-related military service while 28.7 percent was attributed to past child abuse experiences.
A child's first 8 years critical for substance abuse prevention
An online guide about interventions in early childhood that can help prevent drug use and other unhealthy behaviors was launched today by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health.
Panel: Child abuse costs countries up to $150 billion per year
Beyond physical and emotional damage, child abuse has a steep economic price tag that costs economies billions of dollars each year, an international panel of experts will tell the 2016 General Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Friday, Feb.
Better definition needed for reasonable medical certainty in child abuse cases
Physicians use different definitions of 'reasonable medical certainty' when testifying as expert witnesses in child abuse cases.
Child abuse exposure, suicidal ideation in Canadian military, general population
Military personnel in Canada were more likely to have had exposure to child abuse than individuals in the general population and that exposure was associated with an increased risk of suicidal behavior that had a stronger effect on the general population than military personnel, according to an article published online by JAMA Psychiatry.
Forensic research on modern child abuse can shed light on past cultures
Biological anthropologists look at skeletal remains of past cultures to gain insight into how earlier peoples lived, and forensic anthropologists work with modern-day law enforcement to decipher skeletal evidence and solve crimes.

Related Child Abuse Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...