Local alcohol availability related to child maltreatment: Study suggests supply issues key to protecting children

The number of stores selling alcohol in a neighborhood is linked to cases of child abuse and neglect in the same area, a new study suggests.

A study in Sacramento, California, found that having one more off-premises alcohol outlet — those selling alcohol to be consumed elsewhere — in a census tract was related to 13.5% more substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect in that area in a year and 10.5% entries into foster care.

That was after taking into account a variety of other factors that could impact child maltreatment numbers in the neighborhood.

The results show the importance of alcohol availability in creating conditions that may lead to child abuse, said Bridget Freisthler, lead author of the study and professor of social work at The Ohio State University.

“The relationship between the alcohol environment and child abuse and neglect is complex,” Freisthler said.

“Individual interventions to reduce substance use will not completely solve the problem without addressing the issue of alcohol supply.”

The study was published online recently in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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