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Child Abuse in New York City

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The topic we decided to focus on is “Child Abuse in New York City” The reason we narrowed down our topic to child abuse in NYC specifically because we plan on educating children in NYC. What we want to focus on is the fact that poverty is a contributing factor in child abuse, but what happens when it is higher income families that deal with this problem?

The issue in our topic is child abuse in New York City. We have an interest in this, because we believe that there are many conflicts with New York City that needs to be addressed to prevent child abuse. Connecting factors in child abuse can be substance abuse, because of the accessibility in lower income families. However, we want to focus on higher the income families and what the reasons would be for that abuse. If one parent is the abuser and the other finds out about the abuse, this can also cause divorce and substance abuse due to depression and stress.

We want to first figure out the issues that cause child abuse in New York, and this way we can figure out a way to try and prevent it.

The purpose of this study is to gain knowledge of child abuse; not only for ourselves; but also for our future children, and for our future careers as well. As many of us want to go into careers that have to do with the youth, this knowledge will help us better understand and access child abuse when and if we ever come across it in the future. The consequence of not knowing this information is that we allow it to go on, if we can do the research of why this is happening so much, and figure our a way we can help prevent it from happening, or at least have the knowledge to bring more awareness to the issue.

The research question we want to focus on is “Why child abuse is so high in New York City?” Sub-questions we have are:

  1. What can be the cause of child abuse for higher income families?
  2. Many children being abused are from broken families and from parents who may have some kind of substance abuse issue, can this be the cause?

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According to Frechette, Zoratti, and Romanso’s research, they state that adults with a history of mental illness and substance abuse, experience a side effect of mood and personality disorders. According to this research it is believed that these parents have a higher risk of physically abusing their children. This connects substance abuse to child physical abuse. (Fréchette, Zoratti & Romano, 2015) This is further more proven in an example that was given to us that 40-90% of substance abuse users have a history of childhood abuse. (Banducci, Hoffman, Lejuez, and Koenen 2014).

About 40-80% out of 100% of the children who come to child welfare agencies are known to be living in homes with a substance-abusing parent or both parents. Research shows that there is a strong relationship between child abuse and poverty. The discussion of this article states that the physical child abuse rates indeed would be higher in the neighborhoods, which have a higher alcohol outlet density. However, the neighborhoods that had medium access to substance abuse services, such as bars and liquor stores, had the lowest rates of physical child abuse, due to them not having as much access to such places. (Morton, 2013)

It is believed that neighborhoods living in poverty have a higher rate of substance abuse, because of their accessibility to the alcohol/drugs. This theory is proven on the ACS website, where the statistic shows that poorer neighborhoods have a higher percentage of child abuse cases. For example, the report done in 2010-2014 on the numbers on child abuse, based on the neighborhoods, the highest neighborhood in New York City, for child abuse is East New York/Starrette City. This is a known to be a poor neighborhood. It confirms that low income connects with substance abuse, and substance abuse is associated with child abuse. (Morton, Simmel & Peterson, 2014).

According to research 65% of children being abused, happens when the parents are under the influence of drug or alcohol. A study held in New York City, showed that 22% which was 52,000 of abuse/neglect cases in New York City, during April 1990-March-1991, were because of the parents drug abuse problem. The remaining 78% of abuse cases were of families without substance abuse issues. This is evidence to the theory that substance abuse is highly related to parents physically abusing their children. (Magura & Laudet, 1996)

Although there are many researchers studying this topic, what they didn’t focus on, were the higher income families. We want to focus on the abuse that happens in these higher income neighborhoods, because if they are not in poverty, what is the main reason of the abuse?

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The way we will insure that participants will be fully informed of the research purpose, is by giving them a detailed outline of what we are researching, the background and explaining to them the emotional risks of reliving the abuse, during the process of our interview and discussion on the matter.

We will make sure that our participants are voluntarily involved, by having the option of signing up for the research themselves. We wont push the subject on them, but give them the opportunity to choose the research they want to be a part of. We will give them the option, whether they want to be anonymous or reveal their identity. It wont be a requirement during the interview process to reveal your identity. If they choose to stay anonymous, we will give them signed documentation, stating that their identity will not be revealed.

Since our study is based on interview, we wont have any physical risks, but having the participants relive the experiences they went through, may have a negative impact on their emotional wellbeing. The way we will try to prevent the negative impact is by bringing up the subject in a sensitive way, sometimes speaking out about such matters, helps the person feel better. From experience of interviewing someone about domestic violence, if brought the person to tears, but after the interview, they felt that it was for a good cause, and bringing awareness to help prevent the abuse.

One potential bias that can occur during our research is race. People may assume, that only certain races have the highest rate of abuse. The way we will ensure that our findings are impartial, is by having participants from many different races. We will keep our findings secure by having our interview recording and interview transcript stored safely in a locked filing cabinet and the names of the participants stored separately on a computer with a password.

Since our research is interview based, it can be used in a negative way by having the readers get the wrong message from the study. For example, the reader may think that only certain races, or neighborhoods are likely to abuse their kids. While others don’t have any abuse at all, which is false, because even if some races or neighborhoods have a higher percentage of the abuse, this does not mean that these other races and neighborhoods don’t have it at all.

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The qualitative data collection method that we are using is interview, the reason we chose this method is due to our topic. We want to focus on what the cause for abuse and neglect would be if in a higher income neighborhood, since researchers usually focus on lower income neighborhoods. The reason we thought it was the best option for us was because it was best to hear from the people themselves, rather than hearing it second hand.

Our population of interest is the people living in higher income neighborhoods. We will use the participatory approach, because the people being interviewed are involved and we want them to be as involved as they can. We will use different people from different neighborhoods and situations. We are going to use 10 people who were abused, and 10 who were the abusers, and we will use the simple random sample.

Since out interview is on a sensitive topic, we will use an intimate place. So we will conduct our interview in the house, we purposely chose this to make the participants feel comfortable. We will use different sites for each person according to where they live. We will gain access by asking the parents if we can use their house for the interview.

We will recruit participants by going to neighborhood centers, or churches, mosque’s and synagogues, this way we can meet the people in neighborhood and tell them about out study, so we can try to recruit people. We will interview parents and children. With the children it will be a more sensitive and simple questions, on a child’s level, with parents it will be more straight questions. It will be both formal and semi structured. We will have an outline and for according to that but still have room to make it more formal. It will be a one- on-one interview, because it is a sensitive subject and we don’t want the parent or child to feel like they cant say something. We feel that audio is the best way to record the interview, because it will be hard to remember all the answers since it will be a intimate interview. The interviews will take about 20-25 minutes.

Sample of questions:

Questions for children:

1.Were afraid to talk to mom or dad when they were drunk? If so, why?

  1. When did your mom/ dad start to hit you?
  2. Do you feel that it was your fault that they hit you?

Sample for Parents:

  1. Do you feel that your substance abuse affected the way to treat your child?
  2. Do you think the fact that you have a demanding job and pressure to give your family a certain lifestyle, affected your substance abuse?
  3. When did the substance abuse begin?
  4. When did the abuse begin?

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If you are collecting qualitative data:

  1. We will organize our data analysis by starting off with basic simple questions, after that we will then slowly move into more deeper and personal questions, so that we can get closer to our answer. Our data will be focused first on New York City child abuse; once we are done with this topic we then we will go into higher income neighborhoods. We will type up field notes, categorize all of our material by sorting the data into different types of topics.
  2. We will first begin by recording general thoughts about the data and then We will use structure to keep our data organized, we will make sure to strategize the information by the importance of the topic and how personal it is to the victim.
  3. The themes will be child abuse in higher income families and substance abuse.
  4. we will use the codes: child abuse, higher income families, substance abuse, these words will describe the main purpose of the data and organize hem into categories and group topics that relate to one another. We will draw lines between the categories to show the relationships between the topics.
  5. We will represent our data with tables with the connection of higher income families and substance abuse causing child abuse.
  6. The bases for interpreting the analysis will be the personal experience from the people we will be interviewing.
  7. The first strategy we will use to validate the findings is to examine the evidence that the interviewee told us, reassure the accuracy of it, describe the findings, and clarifying whatever is unclear.

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Our outcome to the research is we believe that the research is still up in the air. But we do believe that the cause of child abuse in higher income families can be that these parents have the stress of maintaining the high income and work the long hours. This causes them to be stressed out and also go alcohol for comfort. So the stress of the jobs they have causes the substance abuse which causes the child abuse.

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Fréchette, S., Zoratti, M., & Romano, E. (2015). What is the link between corporal punishment and child physical abuse?. Journal Of Family Violence30(2), 135-148.


Morton, C. M., Simmel, C., & Peterson, N. A. (2014). Neighborhood alcohol outlet density and rates of child abuse and neglect: Moderating effects of access to substance abuse services. Child Abuse & Neglect38(5), 952-961.


NYC Administration for Children’s Services. (n.d.). Retrieved October 18, 2015.


Banducci, A. N., Hoffman, E. M., Lejuez, C. W., & Koenen, K. C. (2014). The impact of childhood abuse on inpatient substance users: Specific links with risky sex, aggression, and emotion dysregulation. Child Abuse & Neglect38(5), 928-938.


Magura, S., & Laudet, A. B. (1996). Parental substance abuse and child maltreatment: Review and implications for intervention. Children And Youth Services Review18(3), 193-220.


Morton, C. M. (2013). The moderating effect of substance abuse service accessibility on the relationship between child maltreatment and neighborhood alcohol availability. Children And Youth Services Review, 35(12), 1933-1940. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2013.09.019


Hart, R., & Rajbhandary, J. (n.d.). (2003) Using Participatory Methods to Further the Democratic Goals of Children’s Organizations. New Directions for Evaluation, 61-75.


Gary Alan Fine, & Kent L. Sandstrom (Eds.). (1988). Knowing Children. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi:

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