Objective: To identify demographic, family, parent, and child factors prospectively associated with risk for child abuse and neglect among families in the community, using data on child maltreatment obtained from both official records and youth self-reports.
Method: Surveys assessing demographic variables, family relationships, parental behavior, and characteristics of parents and children were administered to a representative sample of 644 families in upstate New York on four occasions between 1975 and 1992. Data on child abuse and neglect were obtained from New York State records and retrospective self-report instruments administered when youths were > or = 18 years old.
Results: Logistic regression analyses indicated that different patterns of risk factors predicted the occurrence of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect, although maternal youth and maternal sociopathy predicted the occurrence of all three forms of child maltreatment. In addition, the prevalence of child abuse or neglect increased from 3% when no risk factors were present to 24% when > or = 4 risk factors were present. State records and self-reports of child maltreatment did not correspond in most cases when maltreatment was reported through at least one data source, underlining the importance of obtaining data from both official records and self-reports.
Conclusions: Assessment of a number of risk factors may permit health professionals to identify parents and children who are at high risk for child maltreatment, facilitating appropriate implementation of prevention and treatment interventions.