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Literature Review

The Role of Poverty in Child Abuse

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?


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





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