Urbanicity matters in self-reported child maltreatment prevalence: Findings from a nationally representative study


Beatriz, E. D.; Salhi, C.; Griffith, J. L.; & Molnar, B. E. (2018). Urbanicity matters in self-reported child maltreatment prevalence: Findings from a nationally representative study. Child Abuse and Neglect. vol. 79 pp. 371-383


Despite indications that there are differences in rates of child maltreatment (CM) cases in the child protection system between urban and rural areas, there are no published studies examining the differences in self-reported CM prevalence and its correlates by urbanicity. The present study aimed to: (1) identify the distribution of self-reported childhood experiences of maltreatment by urbanicity, (2) assess whether differences by urbanicity persist after adjusting for known risk factors, and (3) explore whether the associations between these risk factors and CM are modified by urban-rural designation. Using nationally representative data from waves I and III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, the prevalence of six maltreatment outcomes was estimated for rural, minor urban, and major urban areas (N=14,322). Multivariable logistic models were estimated identifying if risk associated with urbanicity persisted after adjusting for other risk factors. Interactions between urbanicity and main effects were explored. Prevalence estimates of any CM, poly-victimization, supervision neglect, and physical abuse were significantly higher in major urban areas. Those from major urban areas were more likely to report any maltreatment and supervision neglect even after adjusting for child and family risk factors. The association between race/ethnicity, welfare receipt, low parental educational attainment, and disability status and CM were modified by urbanicity. Significant differences in the prevalence and correlates of CM exist between urban and rural areas. Future research and policy should use self-reported prevalence, in conjunction with official reports, to inform child maltreatment prevention and intervention.




Child abuse Child neglect Health disparities Prevalence Rural Urban

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Child Abuse and Neglect


Beatriz, E. D.
Salhi, C.
Griffith, J. L.
Molnar, B. E.

Year Published


Volume Number





March 7, 2018



Reference ID