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TribBlog: CPPP on Child Abuse Deaths

The CPPP says Texas' high per capita child abuse and neglect death rate is due to the state's high child poverty and teen birth rates — but also how Texas tallies its numbers.

The Center For Public Policy Priorities released an analysis Wednesday of why Texas has a higher per capita child abuse and neglect death rate than other states. 

Their reasoning?

1) Other states may be undercounting their child abuse and neglect deaths.

2) Texas has higher child poverty, a higher teen birth rate and lower child abuse and neglect prevention than other states.

The report notes that, since 1998, Texas' child abuse and neglect death rate has been consistently higher than other states. In 2006, for example, Texas had 4 child abuse and neglect deaths per every 100,000 children. The national average, not including Texas, was 1.6. Jane Burstain, who authored the paper, attributes the 1998 spike to changes in how Texas started identifying and classifying deaths. But she also acknowledges that Texas families face difficult circumstances that probably contribute to a higher death rate. That includes a high teen birth rate, a high poverty rate and a low rate of child abuse and neglect prevention — factors all proven to add to child death rates.

"Evidence suggests that, in part, Texas may be better than other sates in identifying and reporting child abuse and neglect deaths," Burstain writes. "But evidence also links Texas' higher death rate to its hiugh rate of child poverty, high teen birth rate, and low rate of prevention coverage, meaning Texas actualy has more child abuse and neglect deaths per capita."

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