Child maltreatment and household dysfunction in a British Birth Cohort

Rachel Denholm*, Chris Power, Leah Li, Claudia Thomas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, we assess the prevalence of child maltreatments, their co-occurrence and associations with household dysfunction in a large population cohort. Information from the 1958 British birth cohort on childhood abuse, neglect and household dysfunction recorded at 45years and during childhood was used. Prevalence was calculated in three samples: individuals with each measure (n=9310-15 583); 45-year-old participants (n=9310); and all surviving to 45years (n=17 313) includes imputed data. A cumulative neglect score was derived. Latent Class Analysis (LCA) was applied to establish the co-occurrence of maltreatments. In the three samples, 14.2 to 17.1 per cent of participants reported any form of abuse: psychological (10.0-12.5%), physical (6.1-9.0%), sexual (1.6-2.9%) and witnessing abuse (6.0-8.5%). A high neglect score (≥ 3; prevalence 25.9-32.1%) was positively associated with any form of abuse (30% increase/unit). LCA identified 8.2 per cent of participants at risk of both abuse and neglect, and 24.9 per cent at high risk of neglect 'only'. Measures of household dysfunction were associated with all types of child maltreatment, particularly with abuse and neglect. Approximately one-third of this population sample showed a high risk of child maltreatment; over one in ten reported any form of abuse. Those from dysfunctional family backgrounds were particularly vulnerable to both child abuse and neglect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-353
Number of pages14
JournalChild Abuse Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2013


  • Child maltreatment
  • Co-occurrence
  • Household dysfunction


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