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Using Capture-Recapture Methods to Better Ascertain the Incidence of Fatal Child Maltreatment

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 34 Issue: 6 Dated: June 2010 Pages: 396-402
Vincent J. Palusci; Stephen J. Wirtz; Theresa M. Covington
Date Published
June 2010
7 pages
This study tested the use of capture-recapture methods to estimate the number of child abuse and neglect fatalities and compare the accuracy of this technique with in-depth review by a State-level expert case review team.
Capture-recapture methods allow for more accurate estimation of the true number of child physical abuse deaths using existing sources such as death certificates, child protective services death records, county child death team reviews, and uniform crime reports when compared to a gold standard of a State-level expert panel review. However, other child deaths, principally from neglect, are significantly undercounted. Death from child maltreatment has been identified as an important contributor to child mortality. Several strategies have been suggested to more accurately count the numbers of children dying from maltreatment. This study tests the use of capture-recapture methods to estimate the total number of child maltreatment deaths in a single state using information from various sources and to compare these estimates to the number of maltreatment deaths identified through an in-depth "gold standard" review. All deaths for Michigan residents aged 0 to 17 years for calendar years 2000 and 2001 were identified from four existing data sources. Tables, figure, and references