Skip to main content
Back to Top

Child maltreatment risk as a function of poverty and race/ethnicity in the USA

Date Added to Library: 
Tuesday, February 27, 2018 - 11:18
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 
Individual Author: 
Kim, Hyunil
Drake, Brett
Reference Type: 
Published Date: 
Published Date (Date): 
Monday, January 29, 2018
International Journal of Epidemiology
Page Range: 

Background: Child maltreatment is a pressing social problem in the USA and internationally. There are increasing calls for the use of a public health approach to child maltreatment, but the effective adoption of such an approach requires a sound foundation of epidemiological data. This study estimates for the first time, using national data, total and type-specific official maltreatment risks while simultaneously considering environmental poverty and race/ethnicity. Methods: National official maltreatment data (2009–13) were linked to census data. We used additive mixed models to estimate race/ethnicity-specific rates of official maltreatment (total and subtypes) as a function of county-level child poverty rates. The additive model coupled with the multilevel design provided empirically sound estimates while handling both curvilinearity and the nested data structure. Results: With increasing county child poverty rates, total and type-specific official maltreatment rates increased in all race/ethnicity groups. At similar poverty levels, White maltreatment rates trended higher than Blacks and Hispanics showed lower rates, especially where the data were most sufficient. For example, at the 25% poverty level, total maltreatment report rates were 6.91% [95% confidence interval (CI): 6.43%–7.40%] for Whites, 6.30% (5.50%–7.11%) for Blacks and 3.32% (2.88%–3.76%) for Hispanics. Conclusions: We find strong positive associations between official child maltreatment and environmental poverty in all race/ethnicity groups. Our data suggest that Black/White disproportionality in official maltreatment is largely driven by Black/White differences in poverty. Our findings also support the presence of a ‘Hispanic paradox’ in official maltreatment, where Hispanics have lower risks compared with similarly economically situated Whites and Blacks. (author abstract)

Geographic Focus: 
Page Count: 

The SSRC is here to help you! Do you need more information on this record?

If you are unable to access the full-text of the article from the Public URL provided, please email our Librarians for assistance at

In addition to the information on this record provided by the SSRC, you may be able to use the following options to find an electronic copy from an online subscription service or your local library:

  • Worldcat to find an electronic copy from an online subscription service
  • Google Scholar to discover other full text options