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April 2016Vol. 17, No. 2Examining Repeat Child Maltreatment in Alaska

A new report on repeat child maltreatment in Alaska challenges the practice of drawing only on substantiated data and suggests that relying on this defined data set may underrepresent the prevalence of repeat incidents of abuse or neglect. Alaska has consistently ranked among the States with the highest percentages of children that suffer repeat maltreatment in the Federal Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSR), and the Office of Children Services (OCS) is interested in understanding the full extent to which repeat maltreatment occurs. However, OCS asserts that the existing CFSR measures of maltreatment are inadequate for capturing a true picture of repeat maltreatment in Alaska.

In 2013, 42 percent of Alaska's reported incidents went uninvestigated in an average month and only 12 percent were substantiated. Drawing on case-level data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, the report assessed incidents of repeat maltreatment between 2005 and 2013, and determined the following:

  • Assessing maltreatment trends over the long haul is best for highlighting the incidence of repeat maltreatment, which often takes place over several years.
  • Over two-thirds of all OCS investigations involve children who have already been reported as maltreatment victims at least once.
  • Looking at all investigations, and not just those that have been substantiated, reveals a higher rate of repeat maltreatment.
  • More than 40 percent of victims are abused when they are less than a year old, and maltreatment starts at a very young age among those who are repeatedly abused or neglected.
  • The most common form of reported maltreatment is neglect, accounting for about 75 percent of reports.
  • Roughly an equal number of girls and boys are victims of repeat maltreatment in Alaska.

Repeat Maltreatment in Alaska: Assessment and Exploration of Alternative Measures, by Diwakar Vadapalli and Jessica Passini of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska and funded by University of Alaska Foundation, Alaska Children's Trust, and First National Bank of Alaska, is available at (1 MB).