Abuse after abuse: The recurrent maltreatment of American Indian children in foster care and adoption

Ashley L. Landers, Sharon M. Danes, Avery R. Campbell, Sandy White Hawk - Child Abuse & Neglect



While maltreated children are at risk for recurrent maltreatment, less is known about the maltreatment recurrence of American Indian children in foster and adoptive homes.


This study examined the recurrent maltreatment of American Indian children in foster and adoptive homes, specifically the physical, emotional, sexual, and spiritual abuse subtypes, as well as poly-victimization of American Indian children in comparison to their White peers.

Participants and Setting

Data originated from the Experiences of Adopted and Fostered Individuals Project. The sample (n = 230) consisted of 99 American Indian and 131 White participants who experienced foster care and/or adoption during childhood.


Chi-square analyses and a t-test were used to test differences in maltreatment recurrence. Ordinary least squares regression analysis was used to examine the factors that contributed to poly-victimization.


Both American Indian and White participants reported high rates of emotional abuse. American Indian participants were particularly vulnerable to maltreatment recurrence in the forms of physical, sexual, and spiritual abuse, as well as poly-victimization in their foster and adoptive homes.


Our findings reflect high rates of maltreatment recurrence in foster care and adoption, which may be the result of retrospective self-report, rather than measures of rereport or substantiated recurrence.