ST. LOUIS, March 9 (UPI) -- Much of the overrepresentation of African-American children suffering from maltreatment is due to risk factors such as poverty, U.S. researchers said.
F. Brett Drake, professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, said black children child abuse is approximately twice the rate of white children and this has generally been attributed to racial bias in the child welfare system.
"Racism can exist in any system, but it does not appear to be the driving force behind the racial disproportionality in child abuse and neglect reporting," Drake said in a statement.
The researchers compared racial disproportionality ratios on rates of victimization from official child welfare organizations with rates of key public health outcomes not subject to potential biases, Drake said.
More than 30 percent of black children live in poverty, Drake said.
"So long as our society permits such a large number of our children and young families to live in horrible economic circumstances, we can expect to see high rates of child maltreatment," Drake said.
"Reducing current racial disproportionality in the child welfare system can be best achieved by reducing underlying risk factors that affect black families, specifically poverty."
The findings are published in the journal Pediatrics.