Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 106, Supplement 7, pp eS45–eS56 | Cite as

Review of child maltreatment in immigrant and refugee families

  • Annie LeBrunEmail author
  • Ghayda Hassan
  • Mylène Boivin
  • Sarah-Louise Fraser
  • Sarah Dufour
  • Chantai Lavergne
Systematic Review



Study results on child maltreatment based on general population samples cannot be extrapolated with confidence to vulnerable immigrant or refugee families because of the specific characteristics and needs of these families. The aims of this paper are 1) to conduct an evidence review of the prevalence, risk factors and protective factors for child maltreatment in immigrant and refugee populations, and 2) to integrate the evidence in an analytical ecosystemic framework that would guide future research.


We used a 14-step process based on guidelines from Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses and the Canadian Collaboration for Immigrant and Refugee Health. We searched major databases from "the oldest date available to July 2014". The eligibility criteria for paper selection included qualitative or quantitative methodologies; papers written in English or French; papers that describe, assess or review prevalence, risk and protection factors for child maltreatment; and a studied population of immigrants or refugees.


Twenty-four articles met the criteria for eligibility. The results do not provide evidence that immigrant or refugee children are at higher risk of child maltreatment. However, recently settled immigrants and refugees experience specific risk factors related to their immigration status and to the challenges of settlement in a new country, which may result in high risk of maltreatment.


Future research must incorporate more immigrant and refugee samples as well as examine, within an ecosystemic framework, the interaction between migratory and cultural factors with regard to the prevalence, consequences and treatment of child maltreatment for the targeted groups.

Key words

Review child maltreatment immigrants refugees risk factors ecosystemic model 



Les résultats des études portant sur la maltraitance des enfants issus du groupe majoritaire ne peuvent être extrapolés systématiquement aux familles immigrantes et réfugiées, étant donné les caractéristiques et besoins spécifiques de ces populations. Les buts de cet article sont: 1) de réaliser une recension systématique des écrits sur la prévalence et les facteurs de risque et de protection en ce qui a trait à la maltraitance des enfants issus de familles immigrantes et réfugiées, et 2) d’intégrer les résultats dans un modèle écosystémique qui pourra guider les recherches futures.


Un processus en quatorze étapes, inspiré des principes Preferred Reporting Iterns for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) ainsi que de la Collaboration canadienne pour la santé des immigrants et des réfugiés (CCIHR), a guidé le processus de revue de littérature. Les principales bases de données ont été consultées „de la date la plus ancienne jusqu’en juillet 2014”. Les critères de sélection des articles incluaient: avoir une méthodologie qualitative ou quantitative, être écrit en français ou anglais ainsi que décrire, évaluer ou réviser la prévalence et les facteurs de risque et de protection pour les mauvais traitements chez les familles immigrantes et/ou réfugiées.


Les résultats des 24 articles rencontrant les critères d’éligibilité suggèrent que les enfants immigrants ou réfugiés ne sont pas plus à risque de maltraitance. Toutefois, les immigrants récents et les réfugiés font face à des facteurs de risque spécifiques étant donné leur statut au pays d’accueil et les défis propres à l’intégration dans un nouveau pays.


Les recherches futures doivent inclure davantage de participants immigrants et réfugiés dans leurs échantillons, ainsi que doivent examiner les interactions entre les facteurs liés à la migration et à la culture en ce qui concerne la prévalence et les conséquences de la maltraitance chez les enfants ainsi que le traitement pour ces populations.

Mots Clés

recension maltraitance immigrants réfugiés facteurs de risque modèle écosystémique 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annie LeBrun
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ghayda Hassan
    • 1
  • Mylène Boivin
    • 1
  • Sarah-Louise Fraser
    • 2
  • Sarah Dufour
    • 2
  • Chantai Lavergne
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Quebec at MontrealMontréalCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychoeducationUniversity of MontrealMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Centre de recherche Jeunes en difficulté du Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociauxCentre-Sud-de-l’lle-de-MontréalMontrealCanada

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