Project Title

An Examination of Reported Child Sexual Abuse Cases Before and During COVID-19 in Tennessee

Authors' Affiliations

Griffin Randolph, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Teliyah Cobb, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Jill Stinson, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN.

Location

Culp Ballroom

Start Date

4-7-2022 9:00 AM

End Date

4-7-2022 12:00 PM

Poster Number

97

Faculty Sponsor’s Department

Psychology

Name of Project's Faculty Sponsor

Jill Stinson

Classification of First Author

Undergraduate Student

Competition Type

Non-Competitive

Type

Poster Presentation

Project's Category

Psychology

Abstract or Artist's Statement

Available data suggest a significant rise in family-based offenses during the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine and lockdown period. Although attempts to contain the spread of the virus are critical to protect overall health, these efforts inadvertently exposed children to an increased risk of family abuse by isolating them in their homes and decreasing their access to supportive resources in school and childcare programming. Further, during this time frame, families faced additional stressors (e.g., loss of financial and social support), which may have increased risk for familial violence. Despite limited opportunities for detection and reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic, some studies have shown an increase in child sexual abuse during the implementation of stay-at-home guidelines compared to pre-pandemic rates. However, other studies have proposed a decrease of child abuse cases (including sexual abuse) as a result of limited in-person contact and patient assessment. Much of the research on this topic during the COVID-19 pandemic have been focused in other countries and different areas of the United States. For this reason, it is important to address and acknowledge reported child sexual abuse cases in Tennessee. This study seeks to evaluate rates of sexual crimes against children in Tennessee prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic to better understand its impact on our state. Our hypotheses include: (a) there will be a significant decrease in child sexual abuse reporting from 2019 and 2020 across all regions and (b) there will be fewer child sexual abuse reports in the east region than any other region.

The current study investigates crime rates between 2019 and 2020 for five types of sexual crimes against children in a sample of children in four different regions of Tennessee (Regions 1-4). Data were extracted from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s (TBI) online incident-based reporting system (N = 2350). All reports were for those under the age of 18. Variables of interest include: 95 Tennessee counties broken down into regions (Regions 1-4), type of sexual crime (forcible rape, forcible fondling, forcible sodomy, sexual assault, incest), and year in which the incident occurred (2019 or 2020). Pearson Chi-square analyses will be used to determine the changes in crime reporting by year in the five different crime types. Results from this study will not only better reflect how COVID-19 and quarantine have affected crime reporting rates, but also reflect how limited access to mandated reporters may have an influence on the number of crimes reported. Implications of these findings and future directions for research will be discussed.

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Apr 7th, 9:00 AM Apr 7th, 12:00 PM

An Examination of Reported Child Sexual Abuse Cases Before and During COVID-19 in Tennessee

Culp Ballroom

Available data suggest a significant rise in family-based offenses during the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine and lockdown period. Although attempts to contain the spread of the virus are critical to protect overall health, these efforts inadvertently exposed children to an increased risk of family abuse by isolating them in their homes and decreasing their access to supportive resources in school and childcare programming. Further, during this time frame, families faced additional stressors (e.g., loss of financial and social support), which may have increased risk for familial violence. Despite limited opportunities for detection and reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic, some studies have shown an increase in child sexual abuse during the implementation of stay-at-home guidelines compared to pre-pandemic rates. However, other studies have proposed a decrease of child abuse cases (including sexual abuse) as a result of limited in-person contact and patient assessment. Much of the research on this topic during the COVID-19 pandemic have been focused in other countries and different areas of the United States. For this reason, it is important to address and acknowledge reported child sexual abuse cases in Tennessee. This study seeks to evaluate rates of sexual crimes against children in Tennessee prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic to better understand its impact on our state. Our hypotheses include: (a) there will be a significant decrease in child sexual abuse reporting from 2019 and 2020 across all regions and (b) there will be fewer child sexual abuse reports in the east region than any other region.

The current study investigates crime rates between 2019 and 2020 for five types of sexual crimes against children in a sample of children in four different regions of Tennessee (Regions 1-4). Data were extracted from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s (TBI) online incident-based reporting system (N = 2350). All reports were for those under the age of 18. Variables of interest include: 95 Tennessee counties broken down into regions (Regions 1-4), type of sexual crime (forcible rape, forcible fondling, forcible sodomy, sexual assault, incest), and year in which the incident occurred (2019 or 2020). Pearson Chi-square analyses will be used to determine the changes in crime reporting by year in the five different crime types. Results from this study will not only better reflect how COVID-19 and quarantine have affected crime reporting rates, but also reflect how limited access to mandated reporters may have an influence on the number of crimes reported. Implications of these findings and future directions for research will be discussed.