Research of Note from June 2005

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Violence Among Rural Youth

Violence and Rural Teens: Teen Violence, Drug Use, and
School-Based Prevention Services in Rural America
Rural Health Research Center, University of South Carolina
Executive summary free at

In the face of stereotypes that portray urban teens as more prone to violence and drug use than their rural peers, this study finds that rural teens are equally or more likely than both suburban and urban teens to be exposed to violence and drug activities. However, they are less likely to have access to some school-based violence prevention and mental health services.
“There is this myth that rural America is somehow Mayberry, Andy Griffith land; that everything is cool and safe and wonderful, when in fact it is not,” says Janice Probst, director of the Rural Health Research Center and one of the authors of the study.
The researchers used data from the Centers for Disease Control’s 2001Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, a national survey of 13,601 youths in grades nine through 12. The survey included 1,253 youths from rural areas.

On 15 measures relating to violence, rural teens were no more likely than suburban or urban youth to have engaged in or been exposed to violence-related activities. Rural teens were actually more likely to have carried a weapon of any kind, in any setting, within the previous month, with 22.9 percent reporting that they had.

Rural teens also showed significantly higher rates than their suburban and urban counterparts of chewing tobacco (11.5 percent), smoking cigarettes at school (14.8 percent), using crack or cocaine (5.9 percent) and using steroids (7.4 percent).
Urban teens were more likely to smoke marijuana at school (6.8 percent said they had), the only one of 13 drug-use measures for which they showed a significantly higher rate than rural youth.

The percentage of rural youth who reported having ever used crystal methamphetamine (15.5 percent) was significantly higher than the rate among urban youth (8.8 percent) and suburban teens (9.5 percent).

Among youth in rural areas, minorities were no more likely than their white peers to engage in or be exposed to violence. Girls were more likely than boys to report being coerced into sex or engaging in suicidal behaviors, while boys were more likely than girls to use weapons, be threatened at school, engage in fighting behaviors, chew tobacco and smoke marijuana.

Despite evidence of violence and drug use that equaled or exceeded the rates in urban and suburban schools, rural schools were less likely to offer peer counseling and self-help services, had fewer stringent hiring requirements and violence training opportunities for school mental health staff, and offered fewer hours for youth to meet with mental health staff. At least one survey cited in the study found that school administrators perceived the mental health problems of rural students as less serious than those of urban students.

Rural schools also reported having fewer violence and drug prevention policies and practices than did urban schools.
The researchers conclude that the high exposure to violence and drug use combined with an undersupply of school-based services suggests a “critical need for increased violence prevention and treatment efforts in rural areas.”
“The myth of urban danger and rural protectiveness is dangerous, because it means we don’t allocate the resources to rural prevention that we should be,” Probst says.

See Report Roundup, page 30, for a related study on rural child poverty.

Gay Foster Parents and Abuse

Homosexual Child Molestations by Foster Parents: Illinois, 1997-2002
Available free at
Debate Over Gay Foster Parents Shines Light on a Dubious Stat
The Wall Street Journal Online
Available free at,,SB11146

In his April 28 column, The Wall Street Journal’s “Numbers Guy,” Carl Bialik, outed the origins of some questionable statistics on gay foster parents that had recently debuted in the mainstream media.

One week earlier, CNN had aired a live debate about a proposed Texas bill that would ban same-sex couples from becoming foster parents. The debate featured Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum, a conservative advocacy group, and Randall Ellis, executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas. The Texas House has since passed the bill.
During the debate, Adams said, “We also have got to look at research that does show that children in same-sex-couple homes are 11 times more likely to be abused sexually.” She cited an Illinois study as her source.

CNN anchor Kyra Phillips responded, “That’s a bold statement,” while Ellis called Adams’ assertion “completely uncredible” and “completely absurd.” But Phillips didn’t ask any questions about the Illinois study, and Ellis later admitted he hadn’t heard of it.
In subsequent interviews, Adams told the Journal’s Bialik that she had read about the study on the conservative WorldNetDaily website. The study was conducted by Paul Cameron, chairman of the Colorado-based Family Research Institute, a group that characterizes homosexuality as a public health threat and says gays are more likely to sexually abuse children.

Cameron’s study was published in the February 2005 issue of Psychological Reports, a journal to which writers pay $27.50 per page to have their work published. The study looked at sexual abuse cases from Illinois foster homes and homes that received post-adoption state financial support. It found that 34 percent of the 270 cases reported from 1997 through 2002 involved molesters and victims of the same sex.

Cameron classified those molesters as homosexuals – even though experts on child molestation and pedophilia say that an adult who molests a child of the same sex is not necessarily a homosexual. Many men who molest boys, for instance, have ongoing sexual relationships with adult women and have never had sex with adult men.

Cameron then wrote that, because various studies estimate that 1 to 3 percent of the nation’s adult population is gay, the 34 percent figure from Illinois means that “homosexual [foster parents] were proportionately more apt to sexually abuse foster or adoptive children.”

Adams went further. She admitted to Bialik that she dabbled in creative math to arrive at her “11 times more likely” figure: She divided Cameron’s 34 percent by the estimated national gay population of 3 percent.

Several noted academic researchers told Bialik that Cameron’s study was incompetent and unscientific at best. They noted, for example, that neither Cameron nor the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services had data on the sexual orientation of the adult guardians in the sexual abuse cases that Cameron cited.

This study and other works by Cameron have surfaced in debates on gay marriage and adoption in Virginia, Arkansas, New Hampshire and Texas.