Elevated child maltreatment rates in immigrant families and the role of socioeconomic differences

Child Maltreat. 2011 Feb;16(1):63-73. doi: 10.1177/1077559510385842. Epub 2010 Nov 1.


Are immigrant families at elevated risk for child maltreatment, and if so, what role do socioeconomic and family composition factors play? In a national prevalence study on child maltreatment in the Netherlands, child maltreatment cases were reported by 1,121 professionals from various occupational branches. Maltreating families were compared to a national representative family sample on immigrant status and parental educational level and family composition factors. The authors differentiated between traditional immigrant families who immigrated as labor migrants from Turkey, Morocco, Suriname, and the Antillean Islands, and nontraditional immigrant families who more recently immigrated from countries with severe economic hardships or political turmoil (refugees). Traditional immigrant and nontraditional immigrant families were both significantly overrepresented among maltreating families, but this overrepresentation disappeared for the traditional immigrants after correction for educational level of the parents. Nontraditional immigrant families, however, remained at increased risk for child maltreatment even after correction for educational level. It is proposed that interventions to prevent child maltreatment in immigrant families should focus on decreasing socioeconomic risks associated with low levels of education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / ethnology*
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Child Welfare / ethnology*
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Characteristics / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Parent-Child Relations / ethnology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment
  • Social Isolation
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult