The Austin Chronicle

East Austin Crescent Sees Spike in Child Abuse

By Sarah Marloff, December 16, 2016, News

Child abuse is on the rise in Travis County, according to a report issued Dec. 6 by Dell Children's Trauma and Injury Research Center. The report, created in partnership with Children's Optimal Health, features maps showing child abuse and maltreatment "hot spots" throughout the county using data collected from 2003-2012, including 16,158 substantiated reports of maltreatment of kids ages 0-14. By focusing on the highest concentration of child violence (as opposed to overall numbers), the report addresses the need for prevention resources in troubled areas. Dell's report finds that abuse in Travis County follows an "East Austin Crescent" pattern that directly corresponds with risk factors such as poverty, lack of educational opportunity, community, and domestic violence. In 2015 Travis County experienced 7,701 child abuse investigations, according to Lee Nichols, communications director at TexProtect. Overall, 2,495 Travis County children were confirmed victims of abuse. "Parents living [with] the stress of poverty and lack of opportunity are more likely to commit child abuse," said Karla Lawson, Ph.D., director of the Trauma and Injury Research Center, and co-author of the report. "We can mitigate some of these stressors by bringing opportunity ... Improving affordable housing, transportation, employment, mental health and addiction services – these things can actually protect children from abuse and neglect."

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