Racial Disparity Seen in Child Abuse Reporting

Between 2010-2014, Black children were overrepresented in suspected child abuse reporting, despite having less severe injuries, a researcher reported.

Among 4,288 suspected child abuse victims reported to the National Trauma Data Bank, those classified as Black represented 32.3% of cases despite accounting for 13% of the U.S. population in the period the study was conducted, reported Modupeola Diyaolu, MD, of Stanford University.


In contrast, white children were underrepresented in suspected child abuse reporting, accounting for 51.2% of reports, but comprising upwards of 70% of the U.S. population, Diyaolu said at the virtual American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) meeting.

More of those classified as white had serious or severe injury severity scores (upwards of 16) compared to Black children (22% vs 11%, P<0.01) and in-hospital mortality was also significantly more common in white versus Black children (11% vs 8%, P=0.01), Diyaolu said.

Black children were also hospitalized for a longer period of time than white children, even after controlling for injury severity (5.2 vs 4.3 days, P>0.01), Diyaolu reported.

The findings suggest, "physicians are unconsciously or consciously more likely to assume child abuse in Black children, even though their injuries are less severe," Diyaolu told MedPage Today. "We also assume white children are being missed and are at risk of more abuse."

Children of color are disproportionately reported to child protective services for suspected child abuse, which can lead to psychological trauma and erode trust in the healthcare system, said Tiffani J. Johnson, MD, MSc, of the PolicyLab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), in a separate presentation on reducing implicit bias in child abuse reporting.


Read the Full Story at MedPage Today

Members & Volunteers