Child abuse and neglect in Cambodian refugee families: characteristics and implications for practice

Child Welfare. 2008;87(1):141-60.


This study examines the characteristics and patterns of child maltreatment among Cambodian refugee families in Los Angeles and assesses the implications for child welfare practice with Cambodian refugee families. Data were extracted from 243 active Cambodian case files maintained by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (LAC-DCFS). Some of the major findings include (1) Cambodian child maltreatment cases were most frequently reported to the LAC-DCFS among various Asian Pacific ethnic groups; (2) Cambodian refugee families were more likely to be charged with neglect, while their Asian Pacific counterparts were more likely charged with physical abuse; (3) the circumstances under which maltreatment occurred most frequently were parental substance abuse and mental illness; and (4) while fathers who maltreated their child were likely to use alcohol, mothers were also more likely to have a mental health problem such as depression. This study suggests the importance of collaboration between Child Protective Service agencies, substance abuse programs, traditional healers, mental health services, and other social service agencies for effective child abuse prevention and intervention efforts.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cambodia / ethnology
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / ethnology*
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child Rearing
  • Child Welfare*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / ethnology
  • United States / epidemiology