Increased risk for child maltreatment in those with developmental disability: A primary health care perspective from Israel

Yael Karni-Visel, Irit Hershkowitz, Fabienne Hershkowitz, Michal Flaisher, Mitchell Schertz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Child Maltreatment (CM) is a worldwide phenomenon. Literature suggests that children with disabilities are at increased risk for CM. However, limited information exists regarding if such increased risk is noted in community primary care clinics. Aim: To report on the incidence of CM in children with and without disabilities attending community primary care clinics. Method: This was a cohort study of children belonging to a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) in Israel. The study group consisted of children with disabilities and the control group consisted of children without disabilities. Formal reports to child protection services, medical and sociodemographic data were extracted from designated documentation and medical records. Results: The odds to be identified as suspected CM, after adjusting for sociodemographic variables, was 6.2 times higher among children with disabilities compared to children without disabilities and 5.0 times higher among children with severe vs. mild disability. Conclusions: Developmental disability is a risk factor for CM, and is noted even more seriously in community primary care clinics. CM positively correlated with the severity of disability. The presented data marks higher figures than previously reported, enhancing understanding of the scope of the problem and its relation to the type of organization being examined.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103763
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are most grateful to Shira Barak, Naama Eldar, Pazit Klein-Bardugo, and Anat Toledano for data collection. Meuhedet provided internal support for this project.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020


  • Child maltreatment
  • Disability
  • Mandated reporting
  • Primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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