Responding to child maltreatment in Canada: Context for international comparisons

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Advances in Mental Health, 11(1): 76-86

The purpose of this paper is to both describe the major fi ndings from the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect, 2008 (CIS-2008), and to compare these findings to data reported by Gilbert et al. (2011), who derived their estimates from the US National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. The CIS-2008 tracked 15,980 maltreatment-related investigations of children under the age of 16 conducted in a representative sample of 112 child welfare organizations across Canada in the fall of 2008. Bivariate analyses were used to explore the differences in service dispositions, age, and referral sources by primary maltreatment category and risk. The Canadian/US comparison reveals that rates of investigated maltreatment are nearly identical. Rates of substantiated maltreatment are also comparable, although slightly higher in Canada when substantiated risk of maltreatment is included in the substantiation category. The variation in substantiation and service response rates across types of investigated maltreatment requires closer analysis and highlights the need for a detailed understanding of each type of maltreatment. The rapid expansion of reports over the last decade in Canada invites discussion of the extent to which a response focused exclusively on child protection is appropriate for all cases and optimal for addressing a broad array of needs. The complexity of comparing rates between Canada and the United States requires an understanding of both substantiation rates and thresholds.

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Canadian CW research
Journal article