Associations Among Child Maltreatment, Mental Health, and Police Contact in Adulthood: Findings From a National Canadian Sample

Ashwini Tiwari, Krysta Andrews, Rebecca Casey, Alexandra Liu, Lil Tonmyr, Andrea Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The purpose of this study was to examine associations between three subtypes of childhood maltreatment (physical abuse, sexual abuse, and exposure to intimate partner violence) and two forms of adult police contact (criminality, victimization) using nationally representative Canadian data. Presence of a mental health disorder was also explored as a potential mediating variable in these associations. The weighted sample included 23,846 adult participants from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey–Mental Health. Logistic and multinomial regression analyses examined associations among individual and multiple exposures to subtypes of childhood maltreatment with police contact. The Sobel test was used to assess the mediating effect of mental health disorders. Adjusting for sociodemographic variables, results indicated that all maltreatment subtypes were significantly associated with increased odds of both forms of police contact (adjusted odds ratios ranged from 2.06 to 2.95). Presence of a mental health disorder was a partial mediator in the associations between child maltreatment and both forms of adult police contact (adjusted odds ratios ranged from 1.52 to 2.32). In addition, a dose–response relationship was observed for victimization; as the number of subtypes of maltreatment increased, there was an incremental increase in risk of victimization. Future efforts are needed to prioritize child maltreatment prevention, trauma-informed approaches, mental health awareness, and training in law enforcement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes



  • child maltreatment
  • criminality
  • mental health
  • police contact
  • victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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