Navajo child abuse and neglect study: A comparison group examination of abuse and neglect of navajo children

Roger B. White, Donald A. Cornely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The presence of vastly different cultural influences on child rearing and family life in Native Americans than are found in the general population offers an opportunity to examine the issue of child abuse and neglect in a different cultural context. A study was conducted to obtain baseline data and to isolate types and circumstances associated with maltreatment of Navajo children under 9 years of age. Records from tribal and state courts, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), state social services and a sample of ambulatory pediatric cases were reviewed to elicit abuse or neglect status data for calendar year 1975. Data on 365 abuse or neglect cases were compared with 867 nonabused or nonneglected children (comparison group). A double blind case numbering system was employed to ensure confidentiality of data obtained. Abuse cases were dichotomized according to litigation status (e.g., adjudicated versus documented by clinical findings). Neglect cases were categorized by perceived parental control over circumstances leading to the neglect (e.g., voluntary versus involuntary neglect). Reliability sub-studies were conducted by study staff and Navajo volunteers to assess the degree of agreement in the classification of study case status. Tribal census data for 1975 provided baseline information from which the incidence of abuse or neglect involving Navajo children was established. Extrapolated study data suggests up to 8.6% of the reservation resident Navajo children under age 9 to have been abused or neglected. Various sociode-mographic characteristics differentiating the abusive and neglectful families from those of the nonabused or nonneglected children in the comparison group are reported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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