Racial and ethnic disparities in physical abuse reporting and child protective services interventions in the united states

Suzanne R. Dakil, Matthew Cox, Hua Lin, Glenn Flores

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Background: Minorities are more prevalent than the general population in the child protection system; however, racial/ethnic disparities in physical abuse and child protective services interventions are not understood. Methods: Bivariate and multivariate analyses evaluated racial/ethnic differences in reported and substantiated physical abuse, physical abuse deaths, and interventions provided in all reported maltreatment from the 2006 National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. Results: In bivariate analyses, African American (25%), Asian/Pacific Islander (21%), and multiracial children (21%) have a higher prevalence of substantiated physical abuse than whites (20%). Native Americans (0.21%), African Americans (0.15%), Asians/Pacific Islanders (0.12%), and Latinos (0.11%) are more likely to die from physical abuse than whites (0.09%). African Americans have higher odds than whites of reported (odds ratio [OR], 1.13; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.11-1.14) and substantiated (OR, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.23-1.31) physical abuse. Latinos have higher odds of reported physical abuse (OR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.16-1.20) and lower odds of substantiated physical abuse (OR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.90-0.96). Native Americans have lower odds (OR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.49-0.56) and Asian/Pacific Islanders higher odds (OR, 1.34; 95% CI, 1.26-1.44) of reported physical abuse vs whites. Latinos have significantly lower odds than whites of receiving support services. Conclusions: Compared with whites, African Americans are at increased risk. Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and multiracial children have greater odds of reports, and Native Americans have lower odds of reports for physical abuse. Significant disparities exist in interventions provided to minority families. Understanding these disparities has the potential to improve reporting, prevention, and interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)926-931
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the National Medical Association
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011


  • Child abuse
  • Children/adolescents
  • Domestic violence
  • Health disparities
  • Prevalence
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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