Objectives: To investigate specific child and parental factors associated with increased vulnerability to substantiated child maltreatment.
Methods: A retrospective cohort study of all children born in Western Australia during 1990-2005 using de-identified record linked child protection, disability services and health data. Cox regression was used for univariate and multivariate analysis to determine the risk of substantiated child maltreatment for a number of child and parental factors, including child disability, parental age, socio-economic status, parental mental health, substance use and assault-related hospital admissions. Separate analyses were conducted for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children.
Results: This study found a number of child and parental factors that increase the risk of substantiated child maltreatment. The strongest factors were child intellectual disability, parental socio-economic status, parental age and parental hospital admissions related to mental health, substance use and assault.
Conclusions: Awareness of the factors that make children and families vulnerable may aid the targeting of child maltreatment prevention programmes. To prevent child abuse and neglect it is essential that we have a platform of universal services, which assist parents in their role, as well as targeted services for at-risk families.