Abstract Objectives To present new estimates of the average lifetime costs per child maltreatment victim and aggregate lifetime costs for all new child maltreatment cases incurred in 2008 using an incidence-based approach. Methods This study used the best available secondary data to develop cost per case estimates. For each cost category, the paper used attributable costs whenever possible. For those categories that attributable cost data were not available, costs were estimated as the product of incremental effect of child maltreatment on a specific outcome multiplied by the estimated cost associated with that outcome. The estimate of the aggregate lifetime cost of child maltreatment in 2008 was obtained by multiplying per-victim lifetime cost estimates by the estimated cases of new child maltreatment in 2008. Results The estimated average lifetime cost per victim of nonfatal child maltreatment is $210,012 in 2010 dollars, including $32,648 in childhood health care costs; $10,530 in adult medical costs; $144,360 in productivity losses; $7,728 in child welfare costs; $6,747 in criminal justice costs; and $7,999 in special education costs. The estimated average lifetime cost per death is $1,272,900, including $14,100 in medical costs and $1,258,800 in productivity losses. The total lifetime economic burden resulting from new cases of fatal and nonfatal child maltreatment in the United States in 2008 is approximately $124 billion. In sensitivity analysis, the total burden is estimated to be as large as $585 billion. Conclusions Compared with other health problems, the burden of child maltreatment is substantial, indicating the importance of prevention efforts to address the high prevalence of child maltreatment.
Abstract Objectives Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) has been associated with many adverse medical, psychological, behavioral and socioeconomic outcomes in adulthood. This study aims to examine the linkages between CSA and a wide range of developmental outcomes over a protracted time period to age 30. Methods Data from over 900 members of the New Zealand birth cohort the Christchurch Health and Development Study were examined. CSA prior to age 16 was assessed at ages 18 and 21 years, in addition to: mental health, psychological wellbeing, sexual risk-taking behaviors, physical health and socioeconomic outcomes to age 30. Results After statistical adjustment for confounding by 10 covariates spanning socio-demographic, family functioning and child factors, extent of exposure to CSA was associated with increased rates of ( B , SE , p ): major depression (0.426, 0.094, <.001); anxiety disorder (0.364, 0.089, <.001); suicidal ideation (0.395, 0.089, <.001); suicide attempt (1.863, 0.403, <.001); alcohol dependence (0.374, 0.118, <.002); and illicit drug dependence (0.425, 0.113, <.001). In addition, at age 30 CSA was associated with higher rates of PTSD symptoms (0.120, 0.051, .017); decreased self-esteem (−0.371, 0.181, .041); and decreased life satisfaction (−0.510, 0.189, .007). Childhood sexual abuse was also associated with decreased age of onset of sexual activity (−0.381, 0.091, <.001), increased number of sexual partners (0.175, 0.035, <.001); increased medical contacts for physical health problems (0.105, 0.023, <.001); and welfare dependence (0.310, 0.099, .002). Effect sizes (Cohen's d ) for the significant outcomes from all domains ranged from .14 to .53, while the attributable risks for the mental health outcomes ranged from 5.7% to 16.6%. Conclusions CSA is a traumatic childhood life event in which the negative consequences increase with increasing severity of abuse. CSA adversely influences a number of adult developmental outcomes that span: mental disorders, psychological wellbeing, sexual risk-taking, physical health and socioeconomic wellbeing. While the individual effect sizes for CSA typically range from small to moderate, it is clear that accumulative adverse effects on adult developmental outcomes are substantial.
Abstract Objective A recent meta-analytic review of cross-sectional studies examining correlations between peer victimization and indices of internalizing problems indicates that victims of bullying are highly distressed. However, the reliance on cross-sectional studies precludes interpretation of the direction of effects. The present study was designed to investigate if internalizing problems are antecedents of victimization, consequences of victimization, or both. Method This paper provides a meta-analysis of 18 longitudinal studies examining prospective linkages between peer victimization and internalizing problems ( n = 13,978). Two prospective paths were examined: the extent to which peer victimization at baseline predicts changes in internalizing problems, as well as the extent to which internalizing problems at baseline predict changes in peer victimization. Results Results revealed significant associations between peer victimization and subsequent changes in internalizing problems, as well as significant associations between internalizing problems and subsequent changes in peer victimization. Several moderator effects were observed. Conclusions Internalizing problems function as both antecedents and consequences of peer victimization. These reciprocal influences suggest a vicious cycle that contributes to the high stability of peer victimization. Practice implications This study should further encourage steps to reduce bullying at schools.
Abstract Objective Being bullied has adverse effects on children's health. Children's family experiences and parenting behavior before entering school help shape their capacity to adapt and cope at school and have an impact on children's peer relationship, hence it is important to identify how parenting styles and parent–child relationship are related to victimization in order to develop intervention programs to prevent or mitigate victimization in childhood and adolescence. Methods We conducted a systematic review of the published literature on parenting behavior and peer victimization using MEDLINE, PsychINFO, Eric and EMBASE from 1970 through the end of December 2012. We included prospective cohort studies and cross-sectional studies that investigated the association between parenting behavior and peer victimization. Results Both victims and those who both bully and are victims (bully/victims) were more likely to be exposed to negative parenting behavior including abuse and neglect and maladaptive parenting. The effects were generally small to moderate for victims (Hedge's g range: 0.10–0.31) but moderate for bully/victims (0.13–0.68). Positive parenting behavior including good communication of parents with the child, warm and affectionate relationship, parental involvement and support, and parental supervision were protective against peer victimization. The protective effects were generally small to moderate for both victims (Hedge's g : range: −0.12 to −0.22) and bully/victims (−0.17 to −0.42). Conclusions Negative parenting behavior is related to a moderate increase of risk for becoming a bully/victim and small to moderate effects on victim status at school. Intervention programs against bullying should extend their focus beyond schools to include families and start before children enter school.
Abstract Among juvenile offenders, those who commit the greatest number and the most violent offenses are referred to as serious, violent, and chronic (SVC) offenders. However, current practices typically identify SVC offenders only after they have committed their prolific and costly offenses. While several studies have examined risk factors of SVCs, no screening tool has been developed to identify children at risk of SVC offending. This study aims to examine how effective the adverse childhood experiences index, a childhood trauma-based screening tool developed in the medical field, is at identifying children at higher risk of SVC offending. Data on the history of childhood trauma, abuse, neglect, criminal behavior, and other criminological risk factors for offending among 22,575 delinquent youth referred to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice are analyzed, with results suggesting that each additional adverse experience a child experiences increases the risk of becoming a serious, violent, and chronic juvenile offender by 35, when controlling for other risk factors for criminal behavior. These findings suggest that the ACE score could be used by practitioners as a first-line screening tool to identify children at risk of SVC offending before significant downstream wreckage occurs.
Abstract Objectives To measure the prevalence of maltreatment and other types of victimization among children, young people, and young adults in the UK; to explore the risks of other types of victimization among maltreated children and young people at different ages; using standardized scores from self-report measures, to assess the emotional wellbeing of maltreated children, young people, and young adults taking into account other types of childhood victimization, different perpetrators, non-victimization adversities and variables known to influence mental health. Methods A random UK representative sample of 2,160 parents and caregivers, 2,275 children and young people, and 1,761 young adults completed computer-assisted self-interviews. Interviews included assessment of a wide range of childhood victimization experiences and measures of impact on mental health. Results 2.5% of children aged under 11 years and 6% of young people aged 11–17 years had 1 or more experiences of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, or neglect by a parent or caregiver in the past year, and 8.9% of children under 11 years, 21.9% of young people aged 11–17 years, and 24.5% of young adults had experienced this at least once during childhood. High rates of sexual victimization were also found; 7.2% of females aged 11–17 and 18.6% of females aged 18–24 reported childhood experiences of sexual victimization by any adult or peer that involved physical contact (from sexual touching to rape). Victimization experiences accumulated with age and overlapped. Children who experienced maltreatment from a parent or caregiver were more likely than those not maltreated to be exposed to other forms of victimization, to experience non-victimization adversity, a high level of polyvictimization, and to have higher levels of trauma symptoms. Conclusions The past year maltreatment rates for children under age 18 were 7–17 times greater than official rates of substantiated child maltreatment in the UK. Professionals working with children and young people in all settings should be alert to the overlapping and age-related differences in experiences of childhood victimization to better identify child maltreatment and prevent the accumulative impact of different victimizations upon children's mental health.
Abstract Objective This article reviews the literature concerning the impact of exposure to domestic violence on the health and developmental well-being of children and young people. Impact is explored across four separate yet inter-related domains (domestic violence exposure and child abuse; impact on parental capacity; impact on child and adolescent development; and exposure to additional adversities), with potential outcomes and key messages concerning best practice responses to children's needs highlighted. Method A comprehensive search of identified databases was conducted within an 11-year framework (1995–2006). This yielded a vast literature which was selectively organized and analyzed according to the four domains identified above. Results This review finds that children and adolescents living with domestic violence are at increased risk of experiencing emotional, physical and sexual abuse, of developing emotional and behavioral problems and of increased exposure to the presence of other adversities in their lives. It also highlights a range of protective factors that can mitigate against this impact, in particular a strong relationship with and attachment to a caring adult, usually the mother. Conclusion Children and young people may be significantly affected by living with domestic violence, and impact can endure even after measures have been taken to secure their safety. It also concludes that there is rarely a direct causal pathway leading to a particular outcome and that children are active in constructing their own social world. Implications for interventions suggest that timely, appropriate and individually tailored responses need to build on the resilient blocks in the child's life. Practice implications This study illustrate the links between exposure to domestic violence, various forms of child abuse and other related adversities, concluding that such exposure may have a differential yet potentially deleterious impact for children and young people. From a resilient perspective this review also highlights range of protective factors that influence the extent of the impact of exposure and the subsequent outcomes for the child. This review advocates for a holistic and child-centered approach to service delivery, derived from an informed assessment, designed to capture a picture of the individual child's experience, and responsive to their individual needs.
Abstract Objective This research examined linkages between exposure to childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and childhood physical punishment/abuse (CPA) and mental health issues in early adulthood. Method The investigation analyzed data from a birth cohort of over 1,000 New Zealand young adults studied to the age of 25. Results Exposure to CSA and CPA was associated with increased risks of later mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorder, conduct/anti-social personality disorder, substance dependence, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts at ages 16–25. Control for social, family, and individual factors reduced the associations between CPA and mental health outcomes to the point of statistical non-significance. However, there was a consistent finding for CSA to remain associated with increased risks of later mental health problems. After adjustment, those exposed to CSA including attempted or completed sexual penetration had rates of disorder that were 2.4 times higher than those not exposed to CSA. Those exposed to harsh or abusive physical punishment had rates of disorder that were 1.5 times higher than those exposed to no or occasional physical punishment. It was estimated that exposure to CSA accounted for approximately 13% of the mental health problems experienced by the cohort. Findings showed that exposure to CPA had only weak effects on later mental health. It was estimated that exposure to CPA accounted for approximately 5% of the mental health problems experienced by the cohort. Conclusions Exposure to CSA was associated with consistent increases in risks of later mental health problems. Exposure to CPA had weaker and less consistent effects on later mental health. These findings suggest that much of the association between CPA and later mental health reflects the general family context in which CPA occurs, whereas this is less the case for CSA.
Abstract Research has shown that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) increase the risk of poor health-related outcomes in later life. Less is known about the consequences of ACEs in early adulthood or among diverse samples. Therefore, we investigated the impacts of differential exposure to ACEs on an urban, minority sample of young adults. Health, mental health, and substance use outcomes were examined alone and in aggregate. Potential moderating effects of sex were also explored. Data were derived from the Chicago Longitudinal Study, a panel investigation of individuals who were born in 1979 or 1980. Main-effect analyses were conducted with multivariate logistic and OLS regression. Sex differences were explored with stratified analysis, followed by tests of interaction effects with the full sample. Results confirmed that there was a robust association between ACEs and poor outcomes in early adulthood. Greater levels of adversity were associated with poorer self-rated health and life satisfaction, as well as more frequent depressive symptoms, anxiety, tobacco use, alcohol use, and marijuana use. Cumulative adversity also was associated with cumulative effects across domains. For instance, compared to individuals without an ACE, individuals exposed to multiple ACEs were more likely to have three or more poor outcomes ( OR range = 2.75–10.15) and four or more poor outcomes ( OR range = 3.93–15.18). No significant differences between males and females were detected. Given that the consequences of ACEs in early adulthood may lead to later morbidity and mortality, increased investment in programs and policies that prevent ACEs and ameliorate their impacts is warranted.
Abstract Objective To assess the role of multiple victimization, or what is termed in this article “poly-victimization,” in explaining trauma symptomatology. Method In a nationally representative sample of 2,030 children ages 2–17, assessment was made of the past year's victimization experiences and recent trauma symptoms. Results Children experiencing four or more different kinds of victimization in a single year (poly-victims) comprised 22% of the sample. Poly-victimization was highly predictive of trauma symptoms, and when taken into account, greatly reduced or eliminated the association between individual victimizations (e.g., sexual abuse) and symptomatology. Poly-victims were also more symptomatic than children with only repeated episodes of the same kind of victimization. Conclusion Researchers and practitioners need to assess for a broader range of victimizations, and avoid studies and assessments organized around a single form of victimization.
Abstract This article constitutes a 20-year update to a previous publication ( Pelton, 1994 ), which showed that there is overwhelming evidence that poverty and low income are strongly related to child abuse and neglect. Subsequent evidence shows that the relationship continues to be strong. In addition, there is further evidence since the 1994 publication that this relation is not substantially due to class bias. Yet it is suggested that class bias does exist within the system. There is also further evidence that decreases in child maltreatment follow increases in material supports, and that job loss bears a complex relationship to child maltreatment. Findings pertaining to racial bias within the child welfare system continue to be mixed, but leave no doubt that racial disproportionalities within the system are overwhelmingly related to racial disproportionalities in the poverty population. There is continuing evidence that children placed in foster care are predominantly from impoverished families, and that changes in the level of material supports are related to risk of placement. It is suggested that the fact that there are nearly one million children in out-of-home placement (foster care and child-welfare involved adoption, combined) is indicative of the continuing dysfunction of the child welfare system, and that the differential response paradigm has not altered this dysfunction. A proposal for a fundamental restructuring of the child welfare system is recommended and restated here. Prospects for such change are briefly discussed. Also, to reduce poverty, a previously proposed universal social dividend and taxation system is briefly discussed and recommended.
Abstract Objective To use a lifetime assessment of victimization experiences to identify children and youth with high cumulative levels of victimization (poly-victims). Also to compare such children to other victims and non-victims, and assess the contribution of cumulative victimization to levels of psychological distress. Design A national sample of 1,467 children aged 2–17 recruited through random digit dialing and assessed via telephone interviews (with caretakers and youth themselves) about a comprehensive range of 33 types of victimization experiences in the previous year and at any time in their lives. Results Nearly 80% of the children and youth reported at least one lifetime victimization. The mean number of lifetime victimizations was 3.7 and the median 2.6. The total number of different lifetime victimizations was highly predictive of symptoms of current distress. The best linear prediction of distress on the basis of cumulative victimization entailed weighting child maltreatment and sexual assault by factors of 4 and 3 respectively compared to other victimizations. We proposed classifying poly-victims as those 10% of children and youth with the highest victimization scores, and calculating different thresholds for children at different ages. Poly-victims designated in this way had significantly more distress, more non-victimization adversities than other youth and were less likely to come from an intact family. Conclusion Lifetime assessment of victimization has value as a means of identifying groups of highly victimized children and youth. Practice Implications This paper describes a procedure under which practitioners can assess for a group of children, termed “poly-victims,” who have a very high burden of lifetime victimization. These children merit identification because they have high levels of psychological distress, some of the most serious victimization profiles, and a presumed vulnerability for further victimization.
Abstract This study examines whether the items from the original Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) scale can be improved in their prediction of health outcomes by adding some additional widely recognized childhood adversities. The analyses come from the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence 2014, a telephone survey conducted from August 2013 through April 2014 with a nationally representative sample of 1,949 children and adolescents aged 10–17 and their caregivers who were asked about adversities, physical health conditions and mental health symptoms. The addition of measures of peer victimization, peer isolation/rejection, and community violence exposure added significantly to the prediction of mental health symptoms, and the addition of a measure of low socioeconomic status (SES) added significantly to the prediction of physical health problems. A revised version of the ACES scale is proposed.
Abstract This paper describes the extent to which abused and neglected children report intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization and perpetration when followed up into middle adulthood. Using data from a prospective cohort design study, children (ages 0–11) with documented histories of physical and sexual abuse and/or neglect ( n = 497) were matched with children without such histories ( n = 395) and assessed in adulthood ( Mage = 39.5). Prevalence, number, and variety of four types of IPV (psychological abuse, physical violence, sexual violence, and injury) were measured. Over 80% of both groups – childhood abuse and neglect (CAN) and controls – reported some form of IPV victimization during the past year (most commonly psychological abuse) and about 75% of both groups reported perpetration of IPV toward their partner. Controlling for age, sex, and race, overall CAN [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.60, 95% CI [1.03, 2.49]], physical abuse (AOR = 2.52, 95% CI [1.17, 5.40]), and neglect (AOR = 1.64, 95% CI [1.04, 2.59]) predicted increased risk for being victimized by a partner via physical injury. CAN and neglect also predicted being victimized by a greater number and variety of IPV acts. CAN and control groups did not differ in reports of perpetration of IPV, although neglect predicted greater likelihood of perpetrating physical injury to a partner, compared to controls. Abused/neglected females were more likely to report being injured by their partner, whereas maltreated males did not. This study found that child maltreatment increases risk for the most serious form of IPV involving physical injury. Increased attention should be paid to IPV (victimization and perpetration) in individuals with histories of neglect.
Abstract Objective To determine the rate and risk of clinical and personality disorders diagnosed in childhood and adulthood in those known to have been sexually abused during childhood. Methods Forensic medical records of 2,759 sexually abused children assessed between 1964 and 1995 were linked with a public psychiatric database between 12 and 43 years later. Cases were compared to control subjects matched on gender and age groupings drawn from the general population through a random sample of the national electoral database. Results A lifetime record of contact with public mental health services was found in 23.3% of cases compared to 7.7% of controls. The rate of contact among child sexual abuse victims was 3.65 times higher (95% CI, 3.09–4.32, p < 0.001). It was estimated that child sexual abuse accounted for approximately 7.83% of mental health contact. Exposure to sexual abuse increased risks for the majority of outcomes including psychosis, affective, anxiety, substance abuse, and personality disorders. Rates of clinical disorders diagnosed in adulthood and childhood remained significantly higher among child sexual abuse cases. Older age at sexual abuse and those exposed to severe abuse involving penetration or multiple offenders were associated with greater risk for psychopathology. Conclusions This study confirms that child sexual abuse is a substantial risk factor for a range of mental disorders in both childhood and adulthood. Practice implications Those treating victims of sexual abuse must assess not only disorders commonly associated with trauma, but also low prevalence disorders such as psychosis.
This article argues that it is still premature to start widespread screening for adverse childhood experiences (ACE) in health care settings until we have answers to several important questions: 1) what are the effective interventions and responses we need to have in place to offer to those with positive ACE screening, 2) what are the potential negative outcomes and costs to screening that need to be buffered in any effective screening regime, and 3) what exactly should we be screening for? The article makes suggestions for needed research activities.
Abstract Objective The purpose of this paper was to compare the prevalence rates of child sexual abuse reported by [Finkelhor, D. (1994). The international epidemiology of child sexual abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect , 18 (5), 409–417] with those found in recent publications in order to confirm the widespread prevalence of child sexual abuse. Methods Relevant articles about prevalence of child sexual abuse were identified through searches of computerized databases and a handsearch of Child Abuse & Neglect and the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. Results Thirty-eight independent articles were identified, corresponding to 39 prevalence studies; these articles report the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse in 21 different countries, ranging from 0 to 53% for women and 0 to 60% for men. Conclusions Comparison of the present study with that of [Finkelhor, D. (1994). The international epidemiology of child sexual abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect , 18 (5), 409–417] shows a similarity between prevalence distributions; there appears to be a general pattern that remains more or less constant over the years, especially in women. Practice implications Twelve years after the first revision study about the international prevalence of child sexual abuse, there is still a need for new data about this topic. The present study shows child sexual abuse is still a widespread problem in the society. In this research, carried out on 38 independent studies, there is new data for 21 countries over the world, being especially relevant the results obtained from other countries different from those pertaining to North America or Europe. It is important to point out the high prevalence found in most of the countries, so this information could be a new warning to make society and governments aware of this problem and undertake actions to prevent sexual abuse in childhood.
Abstract Objective Child maltreatment has been linked to negative adult health outcomes; however, much past research includes only clinical samples of women, focuses exclusively on sexual abuse and/or fails to control for family background and childhood characteristics, both potential confounders. Further research is needed to obtain accurate, generalizable estimates and to educate clinicians who are generally unaware of the link between childhood abuse and adult health. The purpose of this project is to examine how childhood physical abuse by parents impacts mid-life mental and physical health, and to explore the attenuating effect of family background and childhood adversities. Methods We analyzed population-based survey data from over 2,000 middle-aged men and women in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study using self-reported measures of parental childhood physical abuse, mental health (depression, anxiety, anger), physical health (physical symptoms and medical diagnoses), family background, and childhood adversities. Results Parental physical abuse was reported by 11.4% of respondents (10.6% of males and 12.1% of females). In multivariate models controlling for age, sex, childhood adversities, and family background, we found that childhood physical abuse predicted a graded increase in depression, anxiety, anger, physical symptoms, and medical diagnoses. Childhood physical abuse also predicted severe ill health and an array of specific medical diagnoses and physical symptoms. Family background and childhood adversities attenuated but did not eliminate the childhood abuse/adult health relationship. Conclusions In a population-based cohort of middle-aged men and women, childhood physical abuse predicted worse mental and physical health decades after the abuse. These effects were attenuated, but not eliminated, by age, sex, family background, and childhood adversities.
Abstract Objectives This study replicates and extends the research literature on poly-victimization with a vulnerable and under-served population, juvenile justice-involved youths. Methods N = 1959, 10–16 year old youths (76% male; 74% youth of color) consecutively newly admitted to juvenile detention facilities completed psychometric measures of trauma history, posttraumatic stress, affect regulation, alcohol/drug use, suicide risk, and somatic complaints. Results Using latent class analysis derived from 19 types of adversity, three unique classes best fit the data. A poly-victim class (49% female, 51% youth of color) accounted for 5% of the sample and reported a mean of 11.4 ( SD = 1.1) types. A relatively moderate adversity class (31% female, 70% youth of color) accounted for 36% of the sample and reported a mean of 8.9 ( SD = 0.3) types of adversity and 2.65 ( SD = 1.1) types of traumatic adversity. A low adversity class (59% of the sample; 17% female, 78% youth of color) reported a mean of 7.4 ( SD = 0.4) adversity types but only 0.3 ( SD = 0.45) types of traumatic adversity. The relatively moderate adversity class was comparable to poly-victims in endorsing extensive non-victimization traumatic adversity (e.g., accidental and loss trauma), but poly-victims were distinct from both moderate and low adversity class members in the likelihood of reporting all but one type of traumatic victimization, multiple types of traumatic victimization, and severe emotional and behavioral problems. Girls were at particularly high risk of poly-victimization, and African American and White youths also were at risk for poly-victimization. Conclusions Although youth involved in the juvenile justice system typically have experienced substantial victimization, a poly-victimized sub-group, especially (but not exclusively) girls, warrants particular scientific, clinical, and rehabilitative attention in order to address the most severe behavioral and mental health problems and risks faced by this vulnerable population.
Abstract Objective Data from the United States indicate pronounced and persistent racial/ethnic differences in the rates at which children are referred and substantiated as victims of child abuse and neglect. In this study, we examined the extent to which aggregate racial differences are attributable to variations in the distribution of individual and family-level risk factors. Methods This study was based on the full population of children born in California in 2002. Birth records were linked to child protective service (CPS) records to identify all children referred for maltreatment by age 5. Generalized linear models were used to compute crude and adjusted racial/ethnic differences in children's risk of referral, substantiation, and entry to foster care. Results As expected, stark differences between Black and White children emerged in the rates of contact with CPS. Black children were more than twice as likely as White children to be referred for maltreatment, substantiated as victims, and enter foster care before age 5. Yet, there were also significant differences across racial/ethnic groups in the distribution of socioeconomic and health factors strongly correlated with child maltreatment and CPS involvement. After adjusting for these differences, low socioeconomic Black children had a lower risk of referral, substantiation, and entry to foster care than their socioeconomically similar White counterparts. Among Latinos, before adjusting for other factors, children of U.S.-born mothers were significantly more likely than White children to experience system contact, while children of foreign-born mothers were less likely to be involved with CPS. After adjusting for socioeconomic and health indicators, the relative risk of referral, substantiation, and foster care entry was significantly lower for Latino children (regardless of maternal nativity) compared to White children. Conclusions Race and ethnicity is a marker for a complex interaction of economic, social, political, and environmental factors that influence the health of individuals and communities. This analysis indicates that adjusting for child and family-level risk factors is necessary to distinguish race-specific effects (which may reflect system, worker, or resource biases) from socioeconomic and health indicators associated with maltreatment risk. Identifying the independent effects of these factors is critical to developing effective strategies for reducing racial disparities.