March 25, 2011 09:17 AM
(The Root) — Rates of reported child abuse are disproportionately high for black children, a fact that has long been linked to suspected racial bias by a largely white child-protection workforce. But a recently released study by Washington University researchers debunks that allegation, citing poverty as the main reason black children are twice as likely as white children to suffer abuse. Published in the March issue of the journal Pediatrics, the study, “Racial Bias in Child Protection? A Comparison of Competing Explanations Using National Data,” does note the importance of policing potential racial bias among teachers, doctors, nurses, law-enforcement officials, child-protective-services workers and other primary reporters of abuse. But the researchers argue that the broader focus should be on mitigating poverty, given that a third of black children are living below the federal government’s poverty line. Economic uplift is likely to curb abuse, concluded the team of six researchers from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., the University of Maryland School of Social Work and the American Humane Association.
The same impoverished segment of other races running afoul of neglect allegations, too.