Decomposing Black-White Differences in Child Maltreatment

Sheila D. Ards, Samuel L. Myers, Chanjin Chung, Allan Malkis, Brian Hagerty

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    47 Scopus citations


    This article examines conflicting visions of the racial composition of the maltreated populations. The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) data shows Blacks are overrepresented amongreported and substantiated abuse and neglect cases, while the National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS) shows no apparent overrepresentation of children of color. To understand the conflicting evidence, the authors produce from NIS approximate measures of maltreatment rates in NCANDS. Maltreatment rates is broken down into allegation, report and substantiation components. Without disaggregating the data by welfare status, all or most of the racial gap in official maltreatment is found to arise from racial differences in allegations. Disaggregation changes the results. Among welfare cases, on average, half of the Black-White gap in maltreatment is due to racial differences in substantiation. Among nonwelfare cases, about half of the racial gap in official maltreatment is due to racial differences in allegations.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)112-121
    Number of pages10
    JournalChild Maltreatment
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - May 2003


    • Aggregation bias
    • Maltreatment
    • National Incidence Studies
    • Racial disproportionalily
    • Reporting bias
    • Welfare


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