On Racial Disparities in Child Abuse Reports: Exploratory Mapping the 2018 NCANDS

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Research suggests children from non-White and Hispanic/Latinx communities are at higher risk for child maltreatment. This study identified in which states children from specific non-White communities were overrepresented in child protective services reports for child physical, sexual, and emotional/psychological abuse through exploratory mapping. Reports on child maltreatment originated from the 2018 National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System and state-level population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Racial disparities were identified in states with unequal proportions of reported child maltreatment among a non-White child population compared to the proportion among the White child population. We found disparities for children from non-White communities in many states, especially for Black communities (Disparity Ratio [DR]: 15.10 for child physical abuse, DR: 12.77 for child sexual abuse in Washington DC, and DR: 5.25 for child emotional/psychological abuse in California). The ability to identify high disparities among Pacific Islanders highlights one of the study’s strengths, given we separately examined Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and multiracial communities. Results from our exploratory mapping provide insight into how preventive resources might be differentially allocated to non-White communities with higher child protective services reporting compared with White communities, and manifest states with multiple non-White communities overrepresented across maltreatment types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-281
Number of pages15
JournalChild maltreatment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • child abuse
  • child maltreatment
  • emotional maltreatment
  • emotional/psychological maltreatment
  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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