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Has the relationship between community poverty and child maltreatment report rates become stronger or weaker over time?

  • Kim, Hyunil1
  • Drake, Brett2
  • 1 School of Social Work, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, United States of America. Electronic address: [email protected]. , (United States)
  • 2 Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, United States of America. , (United States)
Published Article
Child abuse & neglect
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2023
DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2023.106333
PMID: 37379728


Poverty is among the most powerful predictors of child maltreatment risk and reporting. To date, however, there have been no studies assessing the stability of this relationship over time. To examine whether the county-level relationship between child poverty rates and child maltreatment report (CMR) rates changed over time in the United States in 2009-2018, overall and across of child age, sex, race/ethnicity, and maltreatment type. U.S. Counties in 2009-2018. Linear multilevel models estimated this relationship and its longitudinal change, while controlling for potential confounding variables. We found that the county-level relationship between child poverty rates and CMR rates had intensified almost linearly from 2009 to 2018. Per one-percentage-point increase in child poverty rates, CMR rates significantly increased by 1.26 per 1000 children in 2009 and by 1.74 per 1000 children in 2018, indicating an almost 40 % increase in the poverty-CMR relationship. This increasing trend was also found within all subgroups of child age and sex. This trend was found among White and Black children, but not among Latino children. This trend was strong among neglect reports, weaker among physical abuse reports, and not found among sexual abuse reports. Our findings highlight the continued, perhaps increasing importance of poverty as a predictor of CMR. To the degree that our findings can be replicated, they could be interpreted as supporting an increased emphasis on reducing child maltreatment incidents and reports through poverty amelioration efforts and the provision of material family supports. Copyright © 2023 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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