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Risk factors for child maltreatment in South Korea: An investigation of...

Risk factors for child maltreatment in South Korea: An investigation of a nationally representative sample

Jaejin Ahn | Department of Social Welfare, Gachon University

Joan P. Yoo | Department of Social Welfare, Seoul National University


This study investigated the risk factors associated with the occurrence of child physical and psychological abuse in South Korea based on the ecological theory of child maltreatment. A subsample of 3‐ to 18‐year‐old children from “A Study on the Current State of Child Abuse and Neglect,” a nationally representative study on child abuse and neglect, was utilized for secondary data analysis. The sample was divided into two age groups (third graders in elementary school and below and fourth graders and above). We utilized hierarchical logistic regression for each age group separately to analyze the data. The variables at each level of the system (i.e., ontogenic development, microsystem, and exosystem) were entered into the model in sequential order. The results showed the common risk factors for both age groups are the caregiver's experience of abuse in childhood, the child's problem behavior, exposure to domestic violence, community size, and informal social control. The child's age was also significant in both groups but in the opposite direction. Social support was a significant predictor for the younger age group only, while the caregiver's level of education was significant for the older age group only. Implications for future research and practice are discussed based on the study results.


child maltreatment, ecological theory of child maltreatment, nationally representative data,

risk factors, South Korea

Asian Soc Work Pol Rev. 2019;13:282–294.

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