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Pediatrics. 2006 Sep;118(3):933-42.

Child maltreatment in the United States: prevalence, risk factors, and adolescent health consequences.

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Department of Maternal and Child Health, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7445, USA.



The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence of child maltreatment in the United States and examine its relationship to sociodemographic factors and major adolescent health risks.


The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health is a prospective cohort study following a national sample of adolescents into adulthood. The wave III interview, completed by 15 197 young adults in 2001-2002 (77.4% response rate), included retrospective measures of child maltreatment. We used these measures to estimate the prevalence of self-reported supervision neglect, physical neglect, physical assault, and contact sexual abuse during childhood. Next, we investigated the relationship between sociodemographic characteristics and maltreatment. Finally, we examined the association between child maltreatment and adolescent self-rated health; overweight status; depression; cigarette, alcohol, marijuana, and inhalant use; and violent behavior.


Having been left home alone as a child, indicating possible supervision neglect, was most prevalent (reported by 41.5% of respondents), followed by physical assault (28.4%), physical neglect (11.8%), and contact sexual abuse (4.5%). Each sociodemographic characteristic was associated with > or = 1 type of maltreatment, and race/ethnicity was associated with all 4. Each type of maltreatment was associated with no fewer than 8 of the 10 adolescent health risks examined.


Self-reported childhood maltreatment was common. The likelihood of maltreatment varied across many sociodemographic characteristics. Each type of maltreatment was associated with multiple adolescent health risks.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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