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Neighborhood Alcohol Outlet Density and Rates of Child Abuse and Neglect: Moderating Effects of Access to Substance Abuse Services

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 38 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2014 Pages: 952-961
Cory M. Morton; Cassandra Simmel; N. A. Peterson
Date Published
May 2014
10 pages
After examining whether there was a connection between concentrations of on- and off-premises alcohol outlets and rates of child abuse and neglect in a particular jurisdiction, this study identified protective features of a neighborhood's developed environment by investigating the potentially moderating influence of access to substance abuse treatment and prevention services.
The study found that for rates of child neglect, neighborhoods with higher concentrations of on-premises alcohol outlets (bars) had corresponding high rates of child neglect. This is consistent with other within-State studies; however, an unexpected finding emerged regarding child physical abuse; a greater concentration of off-premises alcohol outlets was linked to lower rates of child physical abuse in these neighborhoods. This contradicts the findings of other studies (Freisthler, Midanik, and Gruenewald, 2004). Regarding protective factors, the study found that access to substance abuse services facilitated lower rates of neglect, both on its own and through its interaction with the density of on-premises outlets. This finding suggests that access to substance abuse services has a positive effect for rates of child neglect in neighborhoods with concentrations of alcohol retailers; however another counter-intuitive finding emerged, i.e., the farther away the substance abuse facilities were from the neighborhood with a concentration of alcohol outlets, the lower the rate of child physical abuse. In attempting to explain the findings regarding child physical abuse in relation to the concentration of alcohol outlets and accessible substance abuse treatment facilities, the authors suggest that the research site, i.e., Bergen County, NJ, has a markedly different pattern of child abuse when compared to the rest of the State and the Nation. In 2004, 51.9 percent of Bergen County's child abuse reports involved physical abuse compared to 36.6 percent that involved neglect. The significance of this data should be explored in further research. 4 tables, 3 figures, and 40 references