Child Maltreatment and Migration: A Population-Based Study Among Immigrant and Native Adolescents in Switzerland

Child Maltreat. 2016 Feb;21(1):3-15. doi: 10.1177/1077559515617019. Epub 2015 Nov 19.


Background: Prevalence rates of child maltreatment (CM) can differ substantially between countries and ethnicities. Reasons, however, are complex and not sufficiently understood.

Method: This epidemiological study examined prevalence and risk factors of various types of CM in a population-based representative sample of native and immigrant adolescents in Switzerland (N = 6,787).

Results: The prevalence of CM in general was lowest in the native group, higher in the Western immigrant group, and highest in the non-Western immigrant groups. An immigrant background was related to an overrepresentation of several risk factors for CM. Adjusted odds ratio of an immigrant background were still significant for physical and emotional abuse but not for neglect and sexual assault.

Conclusions: Differences in the prevalence of CM across ethnographic origins are at least partially related to socioeconomic and ecologic risk factors. The distribution of risk factors may vary depending on the contexts of migration.

Keywords: adolescents; child maltreatment; epidemiology; immigrant families; neglect; sociocultural factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child Welfare / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data
  • Exposure to Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Switzerland / epidemiology