Three facts about Chicago:
1.The less money you and your neighbors make, the more calls to the child abuse hotline are made in your community.
2. The less money you and your neighbors make, the more likely you are to live among convicted sex offenders.
3. The more sex offenders you have living in your neighborhood, the more calls to the child abuse hotline are made in your community.
By analyzing all the calls made to the child abuse hot line and the sex offender registry, that's what we've determined. We know what's happening. We just don't know why it's happening. Which came first--the low-income neighborhood or the convicted sex offender?
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Remember this map? It's a map of all the allegations of child sexual abuse in Chicago in the past five years.
Now, take a look at this map--a map of how many sex offenders live in every Chicago ZIP code:
So, we did a statistical analysis of these factors. And it turns out they are related, in that there's a "correlation" between living in a low-income community and more calls to the abuse hotline. There's also a connection between sex offenders and calls. And an inverse connection between income and sex offenders--the less money, the more offenders. So what came first?
Certainly, more convicted sex offenders seems like it would lead to more child sexual abuse. But also, someone released from prison might choose to live in a low-income area because they might have a harder time securing a job. Because victims of sexual abuse sometimes become perpetrators, maybe these convicted offenders are moving back to the communities where they were first abused. And there's been some connection noted between rates of poverty and rates of sexual abuse.
Of course, it's probably not just one of these factors--but maybe all of them, mixed up in an complex mess of economics and criminal justice.
One thing is clear: In certain communities in Chicago, children are unsafe. Why? We don't know. But if we know how to stop child sexual abuse, we need to be paying attention to our most vulnerable communities.