• May 2010
  • Vol. 11, No. 4

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NIS-4 Finds Race Differences in Child Maltreatment Rates

The most recent implementation of the National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect, the NIS-4, found race differences in maltreatment rates, with Black children experiencing maltreatment at higher rates than White children in several categories—differences that were not found in any of the previous NIS reports. A new research paper from the Administration for Children and Families' Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation (OPRE), Supplementary Analyses of Race Differences in Child Maltreatment Rates in the NIS-4, reports on efforts to understand this finding. The report considers possible reasons why the NIS-4 results diverged from the findings in earlier cycles and uses multifactor logistic modeling to reanalyze the NIS-4 data in order to isolate whether and how race contributed to maltreatment risk, independent of the other important risk factors that correlated with race.

In the report, authors Andrea J. Sedlak, Karla McPherson, and Barnali Das examine two possible explanations for why the NIS-4 found statistically reliable race differences in rates of some categories of child maltreatment. They conclude that the finding is at least partly a consequence of the greater precision of the NIS-4 estimates and partly due to the enlarged gap between Black and White children in economic well-being. Socioeconomic status is the strongest predictor of maltreatment rates, and incomes of Black families have not kept pace with incomes of White families since the NIS-3 data of 1993. However, the authors caution that the findings are qualified by the limitations of the predictors that were available for analysis.

The NIS is a periodic Federal effort that utilizes data from both child protective services (CPS) agencies and community professionals who encounter maltreated children during the course of their work to provide estimates of the number of children who are abused and neglected in the United States. The NIS integrates the cases obtained from the multiple sources, generating national estimates of the numbers of abused and neglected children that include both those who receive the attention of CPS agencies and those who do not. The NIS-4 provides data from 2005-2006. Previous reports covered the years 1980, 1986, and 1993.

The report is available for download on the OPRE website:
www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/abuse_neglect/natl_incid/reports/supp_analysis/nis4_supp_analysis_race_diff_mar2010.pdf (1.47 MB)

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