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Child Maltreat. 2003 Aug;8(3):183-94.

Race/Ethnicity and rates of self-reported maltreatment among high-risk youth in public sectors of care.

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  • 1University of California, Los Angeles, USA.


This study examined rates of youth-reported maltreatment history and the association between youth-reported maltreatment and foster care history across four racial/ethnic groups in a public system of care. Interviews were conducted with 1,045 youth (European Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Pacific Islanders) and their primary caregivers, sampled from one of five service sectors (alcohol/drug services, child welfare, juvenilejustice, mental health, and special education) in San Diego. Overall, racial/ethnic differences in youth-reported maltreatment were minimal. However, in the child welfare sector, African American youth self-reported maltreatment less frequently than other youth. There were significant racial/ethnic differences in foster care history, with African Americans far more likely to have been placed, even after controlling for youth-reported maltreatment, income, age, and gender. Furthermore, maltreatment history was associated with placement for all youth except African Americans. These results suggest that the overrepresentation of minority children in child welfare does not stem from greater rates of maltreatment.

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