Exploring unsubstantiated reports by educational personnel of suspected child abuse and neglect in New York State using geographic information system technology: Is there a disproportionate impact on African American children?

Kathryn S Krase, Fordham University

Abstract

“Educational personnel” serve as an important conduit for family involvement in child protective services (CPS). Educational personnel are the largest source of reports of suspected child maltreatment in the United States (United States Department of Health and Human Services, 2007). However, reports made by educational personnel are less likely than that of other professional reporters to be substantiated after investigation (United States Department of Health and Human Services, 2007).^ This study provides insight into the reporting of child abuse and neglect by educational personnel in New York State by focusing at the county level on the characteristics of reports that are unsubstantiated after investigation by CPS. There is no research, to date, that examines unsubstantiated reports, nor any research in this area that compares county level data. Since African-American children are more likely than White children to be known to CPS through reports from educational personnel than any other report source (Ards, Chung & Myers., 1998), this study also explores the impact on African-American children of unsubstantiated reports by educational personnel.^ Data from the 2006 National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) and county level data compiled by both the United States Census Bureau and the government of New York State was used in conjunction with Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. The characteristics of unsubstantiated reports made by educational personnel were aggregated by county, in combination with demographic, economic and social characteristics of these counties, and were mapped and analyzed to identify differences across New York State.^ This research found most measures differed significantly from each other at the County level, and therefore relevant State level measures do not accurately report local experiences. There was great variety in most variables measured in this study, including the percentage of reports of suspected child maltreatment by educational personnel that are unsubstantiated, the characteristics of children who are the subjects of those reports, and the types of maltreatment alleged in these reports. County social, economic and demographic characteristics were found to be significantly related to the percentage of reports by educational personnel that are unsubstantiated, such as the level of social service expenditures, the county poverty rate, and the percentage of single parent headed families. Additionally, African-American children are disproportionately found in unsubstantiated reports across New York State as a whole, and in a large majority of counties. ^ Geo-spatial analysis found many factors geographically clustered, suggesting similarities across neighboring counties that might distort traditional statistical analysis. Geographically Weighted Regression (GWR) Analysis was used to explore predictors of social service expenditures, a factor found to he significantly associated with the percentage of reports by educational personnel that were unsubstantiated in a county, as well as most other county level variables. GWR found that when local models were compared, the impact of county level factors differed significantly.^ The results of this study highlight the importance of examining unsubstantiated reports and local examination of reporting behaviors. Such findings can better inform local, state and federal policy in the reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect, not just by educational personnel, but all reporters.^

Subject Area

African American Studies|Black Studies|Social Work|Education, Administration|Sociology, Criminology and Penology|Sociology, Public and Social Welfare

Recommended Citation

Kathryn S Krase, "Exploring unsubstantiated reports by educational personnel of suspected child abuse and neglect in New York State using geographic information system technology: Is there a disproportionate impact on African American children?" (January 1, 2009). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3395081.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3395081

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