In Englewood, 1 in 25 children is the subject of a sexual abuse call

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Sometimes, when you take a second look at data, you see something you didn’t see before. That’s what happened to us the other day with our data on child sexual abuse.

We knew that children from poorer neighborhoods had a greater likelihood of a call being made to the child abuse hotline about them. But this time, we noticed that a few neighborhoods had pretty shockingly high rates–like Englewood.

Of the 16,914 minors in Englewood, there’s been 676 calls in the past five years about children from that ZIP code. That means 1 in 25 children in that neighborhood have had someone call the abuse hotline about them.

Although Englewood in 60621 had the highest rates of children being called about, a few other ZIP codes also saw a large number of allegations–60636 and 60628, which encompass numerous communities–West Englewood, Pullman, West Pullman, Roseland and Riverdale.

When we mapped the entire city, those communities definitely stood out. The red areas are ZIP codes where there’s more than 300 allegations per 10,000 children. Take a look:

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Why are so many calls concentrated in one ZIPcode? Well, Reporter Jeff Kelly Lowenstein’s research into the issue showed us there’s definitely some connection between poverty and child sexual abuse allegations, but no one is quite sure what it is.

Is it that poor children are more likely to be abused? Some say no–that abuse happens regardless of social class. But there’s also the worry that the pressures of living pay check to pay check or dealing with substance abuse can lead to child abuse.

Certainly, some neighborhoods might be more aware of the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services. In lower-income neighborhoods, residents just might be more aware of the existence of state services and, thus, more likely to take advantage of them.

It could also be a sense of shame. Just like Asian communities have trouble talking about sexual abuse because of their cultural emphasis on family harmony, perhaps higher-income people don’t want to air their family’s dirty laundry. It still exists–they just might have better resources with which to cover it up.

What do you think? Why do some neighborhoods have hardly any allegations when others are sky high? Leave us your thoughts in the comments or tell us what you think on facebook.

Want to see how your community is doing on reporting child sexual abuse? Take a look at our spreadsheet on allegations by ZIP code.

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