Racial/ethnic and gender disparities in substantiation of child physical and sexual abuse: Influences of caregiver and child characteristics

Rebecca L. Fix, Reshmi Nair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In the U.S., Black and Latinx children are significantly more likely to be referred to child protectives services for physical and sexual abuse compared with White and non-Latinx children. There are data indicating child physical abuse substantiation disparities for these cases, as well. The present study tested for disparate responses to minority children with reports of child physical and sexual abuse and examined how child and caregiver characteristics influence whether a case is substantiated. National level data from 3,440,182 unique cases were used from the 2016 National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (all U.S. cases of reported maltreatment). Child race was influential on substantiation decisions, with White and non-Latinx children being significantly more likely to have their cases substantiated than all other racial and ethnic groups; this effect was more pronounced for physical abuse than sexual abuse. Additionally, a unique subset of child and caregiver characteristics influenced child physical and sexual abuse outcomes; these factors differed somewhat between racial groups. Differentiated patterns of risk by type of abuse indicate the importance of separating out types of maltreatment in research aiming to better understand what contributes to child abuse case substantiation. Trainings and prevention efforts such as implicit bias awareness interventions for caseworkers and professionals who work with children are potentially warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105186
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Discrimination
  • Maltreatment
  • Parent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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