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Am J Public Health. 2006 Oct;96(10):1849-53.

Concordance between self-reported maltreatment and court records of abuse or neglect among high-risk youths.

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  • 1Office on Smoking and Health, Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga 30341-3724, USA. mswahn@cdc.gov

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

We examined the concordance between measures of self-reported maltreatment and court records of abuse or neglect in a sample of detained youths.

METHODS:

Data were collected by the Northwestern Juvenile Project and include interviews from 1829 youths aged 10-18 years. Participants were newly detained youths in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Illinois between 1995 and 1998. Self-reported cases of child maltreatment were compared with court records of abuse or neglect in the Cook County judicial system.

RESULTS:

We found that among detained youths, 16.6% of those who reported any maltreatment, 22.2% of those who reported the highest level of maltreatment, and 25.1% of those who reported that they required medical treatment as a result of maltreatment had a court record of abuse or neglect. Among those with any self-reported maltreatment, girls (vs boys) and African Americans (vs Whites) were more likely to have a court record (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=2.18; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.53, 3.09; and AOR=2.12; 95% CI=1.23, 3.63, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS:

Official records seriously underestimate the prevalence of maltreatment, which indicates that multiple data sources are needed to document the true prevalence of maltreatment.

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