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Abstract

Neighbors are seen as an important source of child abuse prevention and reporting. This article reports the result of a random telephone survey of a large mid-western city (n = 513) which examined the extent to which respondents suspected their neighbors of physical child abuse. Data was also collected on how respondents learned of such physical abuse, what their response to it was, and whether they noticed a difference in the frequency of the abuse after they did or did not respond. In this urban environment, relatively few knew of their neighbors' physical abuse, and those who did learned of the abuse by either seeing or hearing it occur. Most reported the abuse, many did nothing, but some intervened in the situation. Parents of minor children reacted differently than adults without children. The impact of neighbors' reactions on the future physical abuse of the child was mixed. Neighbors responses to abuse when they witness or hear it might be helpful in reducing immediate child injuries, but their longer-term effects are unclear.

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