Child Maltreatment

Read Complete Research Material


Child Maltreatment

Child Maltreatment


Understanding the causes of child maltreatment has proved complex because child maltreatment is not a unitary concept. While research has implicated a series of causal agents, they vary across types of maltreatment: What is true for sexual abuse is not necessarily true for physical abuse or neglect. For example, certain parental personality characteristics have been implicated in some forms of maltreatment, but no single psychiatric syndrome or disorder has been identified that characterizes all or even most adults who maltreat children (Cicchetti, 2006).


The causes of child maltreatment are varied; there is likely no single cause. For instance, social learning theory suggests that child maltreatment is a learned behavior. Thus, parents who were maltreated as children may have learned, through their own childhood experiences, coercive forms of discipline or neglectful patterns rather than learning appropriate, nonabusive parenting practices. In this way, child maltreatment can be transmitted intergenerationally. In fact, a higher percentage of children who experienced maltreatment themselves, as compared with children who did not experience maltreatment, go on to abuse their own children later in life. Note that this does not mean, contrary to popular belief, that most children who have been abused go on to abuse their own children (Bottoms, 2006). The majority of adults who were abused as children are not abusive. Thus, there are many other potential contributors to child abuse and neglect, including an abundance of life stressors (e.g., poverty, lack of community resources, social isolation), individual personality or psychopathological traits, child-specific factors (e.g., a child's temperament or disability), cultural or community acceptance of maltreatment, and even religious beliefs about eschewing modern medical care and applying strict corporal discipline.

Early Interventions

Early interventions are necessary to reduce the severity and chronicity of abuse symptoms and alter family and environmental factors contributing to maltreatment. Services and ...
Related Ads