For the first time in the history of the National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect, the most recent cycle, the NIS–4, found race differences in maltreatment rates, with Black children experiencing maltreatment at higher rates than White children in several categories. The efforts described in this report attempted to understand this finding by considering possible reasons why the NIS–4 results diverged from the findings in earlier cycles and by using multi-factor logistic modeling to reanalyze the NIS–4 data in order to isolate whether and how race contributed to maltreatment risk independent of the other important risk factors that correlated with race.
The authors examined two possible explanations for why the NIS–4 found statistically reliable race differences in rates of some categories of child maltreatment, in contrast to the findings of previous NIS cycles. They concluded that the finding is at least partly a consequence of the greater precision of the NIS–4 estimates and partly due to the enlarged gap between Black and White children in economic well-being. Income, or socioeconomic status, is the strongest predictor of maltreatment rates, but since the time of the NIS–3, incomes of Black families have not kept pace with the incomes of White families.