This in depth report from the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire makes it painfully clear that poverty and mental health issues are often at the heart of child abuse.

Durham, NH–According to a new brief by Carsey Institute director of research on vulnerable families Marybeth J. Mattingly and research assistant professor of sociology Wendy A. Walsh, rural families who have been reported to Child Protective Services (CPS) are more likely than those reported in urban areas to experience high family stress and financial difficulties. Rural children referred to CPS are also more likely than urban children to live in a single parent home.

Based on data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, this brief shows that across place, nearly 40 percent of children who are reported to CPS live in poverty, and roughly half have a caregiver with mental health issues.

Families reported to CPS also report low levels of social support. Families living in rural areas may have less access to services designed to help cope with situations that may lead to child maltreatment, so policies must be designed to address this.

Author Marybeth J. Mattingly can be reached for comment at 603-862-2961, 240-593-4297, or

Read the brief.

Read about author Marybeth J. Mattingly.

Read about author Wendy A. Walsh.

The Carsey Institute conducts national and regional policy research on vulnerable children, youth, and families and on sustainable community development. We give policy makers and practitioners the timely, independent resources they need to effect change in their communities. href=’’>carsey institute rural families distribution of child maltreatment>