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UNH Research: Child Abuse Up Slighty in Recent Years


New research from the University of New Hampshire shows a slight increase in the rate of child abuse nationwide.

The report from the Crimes Against Children Research Center shows that from 2015 to 2016, child physical abuse increased by 5%, while child maltreatment fatalities increased by 8%.

UNH professor and author of the report David Finkelhor says the results are troubling, but he cautions against reading too much into the single data point.

He says the long term trends in child abuse offer hope. Nationwide, child physical and sexual abuse are down by more than half since the early 90s.

“It suggests that some of the things that we’re doing have actually been having an effect, that a lot of the prevention programs and family support programs that we now have put in to place are really helping to protect kids.”

Still, Finkelhor says he'll be watching closely to see if this recent uptick represents a new trend.

“One of the things that we’re really monitoring and concerned about is the effect of the opioid crisis on child well-being. And we want to monitor closely these statistics to make sure that is not aggravating the situation.”

According to Finkelhor's research, the rates of child physical and sexual abuse have declined significantly in New Hampshire since 1992. But the rate of child neglect in the state has seen a sharp increase over the same period.

Jason Moon is a senior reporter and producer on the Document team. He has created longform narrative podcast series on topics ranging from unsolved murders, to presidential elections, to secret lists of police officers.

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