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The Relationship between “Protection of” and “Violence Against” Infants and Young Children: The U.S. Experience, 1940–2005

by 1,*,† and 2,†
1
Department of Neurology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
2
Department of Statistics, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Soc. Sci. 2014, 3(3), 394-403; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci3030394
Received: 6 June 2014 / Revised: 24 July 2014 / Accepted: 5 August 2014 / Published: 12 August 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Developments in Child Protection)
Between 1940 and 2005, in the United States, the rate of unnatural death declined about 75 percent in infant and young child boys and girls; a remarkable indicator of successful child protection. During this same period, the rate of reported homicide in infant boys increased 64.0 percent, in infant girls increased 43.5 percent, in young child boys increased 333.3 percent, and in young child girls increased 300.0 percent, a dismal and disturbing indicator of failed child protection. Can these simultaneously encouraging and discouraging observations be reconciled? The four categories of unnatural death, homicide, suicide, motor vehicle accident (MVA), and non-MVA, are mutually exclusive classifications. Correlations between the four categories of unnatural death among U.S. men and woman in all age groups for the years 1940 through 2005 were calculated. A negative correlation between homicide and non-MVA death rates was shown for all age groups, encompassing the entire human lifespan, in both genders. This consistently observed negative correlation was only observed between homicide and non-MVA death rates, and was not demonstrated between other causes of unnatural deaths. Moreover, this negative correlation was strongest (less than −0.7) in infants and young children. These observations are consistent with the suggestion that as the rate of unnatural death in infants and young children dramatically declined, society gave greater scrutiny to those fewer occurring unnatural deaths and demonstrated an increasing propensity to assign blame for those fewer deaths. View Full-Text
Keywords: child protection; child abuse; child homicide; infant protection; infant abuse; infant homicide; social surveillance; unnatural death child protection; child abuse; child homicide; infant protection; infant abuse; infant homicide; social surveillance; unnatural death
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Riggs, J.E.; Hobbs, G.R. The Relationship between “Protection of” and “Violence Against” Infants and Young Children: The U.S. Experience, 1940–2005. Soc. Sci. 2014, 3, 394-403.

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