Michigan stats confirm hunting, child abuse link

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1995:

LANSING––Michigan children are nearly three times as likely to be neglected and
are twice as likely to be physically abused or sexually assaulted if they live in a county with
either an above average or above median rate of hunting participation.
Michigan sells two times more hunting licenses per capita as upstate New York, a
closely comparable region, but has seven times the rate of successfully prosecuted child
abuse, and twice as high a rate of sexual assault on children.
Michigan and New York, exclusive of New York City, have similar per capita
income ($20,453 for Michigan, $20,124 for upstate New York), unemployment rates (7.0%
for Michigan, 7.7% for upstate New York), and population density (164 people per square
mile for Michigan, 228 people per square mile for upstate New York).

But Michigan sells 16,430 hunting licenses per 100,000 residents; New York, with
almost identical licensing requirements, sells 8,627. Only 7% of upstate New York residents
hunt; 9.6% of Michigan residents hunt, the third-highest rate of hunting participation in the
U.S., behind only Alaska (15%) and Pennsylvania (9.8%).
There are 235.2 identified victims of child abuse per 100,000 Michigan residents,
but just 30.2 victims per 100,000 residents of upstate New York. There are 25.4 child victims
of sexual assault per 100,000 Michigan residents, but only 13.2 per 100,000 in upstate
New York.
In short, Michigan is at the high end of the known U.S. scale for hunting participation,
child abuse, and sexual assaults on children––and the coincidence is no surprise.
Michigan is the third state whose official
hunting and child abuse statistics A N I M A L
P E O P L E has examined by comparing hunting
license sales and abuse convictions per
100,000 residents on a county-by-county
basis, and the third in which rates of hunting
participation appear to be as closely associated
with crimes against children as the traditional
predictors: low population density and
low per capita income.
The initial study, covering the 62
counties of New York state, found that in 21
of 22 direct comparisons between counties of
almost identical population density, the
county with the most hunters also had the
most child molesting. Twenty-eight of the 32
New York counties with rates of child
molesting above the state median also had
more than the median rate of hunting. The
complete data appeared in our March 1994
Data published in the November
1994 edition demonstrated that among the 88
counties of Ohio, those with more than the median
number of hunters per 100,000 residents have 51% more
reported child abuse, including 15% more physical violence,
82% more neglect, 33% more sexual abuse, and
14% more emotional maltreatment.
New York, Ohio, and Michigan together
have 232 counties for which both hunting and crime statistics
are available––and 14% of all the hunters in the
United States.
The parallels prevalent in all three states support
a hypothesis that both hunting and child abuse
reflect the degree to which a social characteristic called
dominionism prevails in a particular community.
Stephen Kellert, in his 1980 study American Attitudes
Toward and Knowledge of Animals, commissioned by
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, defined dominionism
as an attitude in which “primary satisfactions [are] derived from mastery or control over animals,” a definition
which other investigators have extended to include
the exercise of “mastery or control” over women and
children. Kellert––who for years now has struggled to
deny the import of his findings––reported that the
degree of dominionism in the American public as a
whole rated just 2.0 on a scale of 18. Humane group
members rated only 0.9. Recreational hunters, however,
rated from 3.8 to 4.1, while trappers scored 8.5.
Isolating the influence
While demonstrating the statistical association
of hunting with child abuse is easy, separating the influence
of hunting on abuse statistics from the influences
of isolation and poverty requires more math.
In Michigan, factors associated with high
rates of child abuse are, in order, less-than-median
family income, at 297.1 cases per 100,000 residents;
above median hunting participation, 291.7; below
median population density, 286.6; below average family
income, 273.2; below average population density,
263.5; and above average hunting participation, 263.3.
Hunters may take heart that in terms of simple
numbers, poverty appears to be slightly more closely
associated with child abuse than hunting participation.
But the factors associated with high rates of sexual
abuse of children show high hunting participation in
first place, at 40.7 victims per 100,000 residents for
above median hunting participation; low population
density second, at 39.1; above average hunting participation
third, at 38.4; below average population density
third, at 38.3; and level of income of possible minor
importance. Below-average income weighs in at 31.3,
well over the norm of 19.2 for counties of above-average
income, but median rates of sex abuse are virtually
identical among both high- and low-income counties.
In each set of averages and medians the margins
are often so very narrow as to be perhaps illusory.
Child abuse in all forms is believed by most experts to
be significantly under-reported, especially in rural areas
where witnesses are few. A handful more reported
cases in counties of low population density could
markedly change the order of the figures.
A more accurate measure of the relative influence
of population density, income, and hunting upon
child abuse is the differential. The differential is the difference
between the norm for all counties above the
median or average for the characteristic being examined,
and the norm for all counties below that median or average.
Using differentials offsets the distortion that may
result from a relatively few incidents occuring in a
county of very low population. The wider the differential,
the more important the characteristic is likely to be
in shaping the difference.
Relative to overall incidence of child abuse,
the differentials for population density, income, and
hunting participation are all closely comparable, ranging
from .73 to .80, except that an increase in per capita
income of $5,000 is predictably associated with markedly
less child abuse.
The differentials for physical abuse are narrow
among both medians and averages, suggesting that
while population density, income, and hunting participation
may all have some relationship to such abuse,
showing up in the averages but not the medians, none
of these factors are stronger than any of the others.
Both low population density and poverty have
a predictably strong influence on the incidence of physical
neglect, social neglect, and miscellaneous offenses,
of which abandonment and diversion of child welfare
benefits are most frequently prosecuted. Counties with
more than the median amount of hunting participation
also have wide differentials for physical neglect, social
neglect, and miscellaneous offenses against children,
but this could be considered a mere byproduct of their
population and income characteristics.
Measuring by averages, low population density,
low income, and high hunting participation all coincide
with sharply elevated rates of sexual abuse of children.
Measuring by medians, however, income as
above noted seems to be much less a factor than either
rural location or hunting partipation––and of these factors,
hunting weighs heaviest.
In any event, the coincidence of high hunting
participation with both poverty and child abuse is in
itself indicative that hunting may be symptomatic of a
poor social environment.

Michigan hunting, child abuse statistics

Counti es Pop. Income Licenses %- Victims Phys. Sex Phys Soc.
by abuse Sq. mi. capita 100,000 1 8 10 0, 00 0 abuse abuse neg. neg .
+msc .
Over m edian: 192 $10,957 45,648 30% 362.0 71.2 46.3 123.0 118.3 17.8
Under median: 165 $ 12,188 42,875 29% 139.1 39.0 24.4 44.4 36.5 7.4
DIFFERENTIA L: .86 1.11 .94 .97 .38 .55 .53 .36 3.24 .42
Over a verag e: 195 $10,822 46,581 30% 391.5 75.5 51.6 130.3 132.9 17.9
Under avg .: 167 $12,104 42,619 29% 151.0 40.7 23.8 50.7 38.1 8.8
DIFFERENTIA L: .86 1.12 .94 .97 .39 .54 .46 .39 28.7 .49
Counti es Pop. Income Licenses %- Victims Phys. Sex Phys Soc.
by pop. Sq. mi. capita 100,000 18 100,000 abuse abuse neg. neg.
+msc .
Under median: 30 $ 9,982 63,643 28% 286.6 57.6 39.1 91.7 94.9 15.6
Over m edian: 326 $12,954 24,676 31% 214.0 55.2 30.9 41.5 59.2 9.1
DIFFERENTIA L: 10.9 1.30 .38 1.1 .75 .96 .79 .45 .62 .6
Under ave rage: 54 $10,680 52,070 29% 263.5 59.2 38.3 85.3 83.4 12.8
Over a verag e: 622 $14,268 16,032 30% 203.4 46.5 23.3 75.5 54.4 10.8
DIFFERENTIA L: 11.5 1.34 .31 1.034 .77 .79 .60 .89 .65 .8
Counti es Pop. Income Licenses %- Victims Phys. Sex Phys Soc.
by income Sq. mi. capita 100,000 1 8 10 0, 00 0 abuse abuse neg. neg.
+msc .
Under median: 35.5 $ 10,246 63,904 29% 297.1 55.8 29.7 96.0 96.2 16.0
Over m edian: 336 $13,318 25,060 31% 221.0 57.2 30.0 71.7 60.1 9.5
DIFFERENTIA L: 9.5 1.29 .39 1.07 .74 1.03 1.01 .75 63.5 .59
Under avg : 135 $11,182 48,018 30% 273.2 58.5 31.2 89.5 83.5 13.9
Over a verag e: 549 $16,171 20,901 30% 148.8 40.7 19.2 42.4 39.8 7.3
DIFFERENTIA L: 4.07 1.44 .44 0% .55 .70 .62 .47 .48 .53
Counti es Pop. Income Licenses %- Victims Phys. Sex Phys Soc.
by hunters Sq. mi. capita 100,000 1 8 10 0, 00 0 abuse abuse neg. neg.
+msc .
Over m edian: 45 $10,295 65,193 29% 291.7 57.6 40.7 94.5 95.2 15.8
Under median: 323 $ 12,850 21,588 31% 214.1 67.0 29.9 73.7 60.1 9.3

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