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n this discussion, we’re going to take a look at issues associated with reporting known or suspected cases of child abuse.

According to the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family, “Surveys of health care professionals, including mental health providers, indicate that professionals often fail to report identified child maltreatment, despite being trained to identify child abuse and neglect. Many professionals indicate that they do not believe others will follow through to provide the help needed by a family coping with violence.” (APA, 1996, p. 63)

For the purposes of this discussion, choose a state that you are interested in and respond to all of the following questions and at least 2 of your classmates’ posts.

Helpful web site:

Child Welfare Information Gateway


Name of State:

How is child abuse defined in the statute?

Who are the mandated reporters?

Is any group specified as “exempt”? If yes, please explain

What are the penalties for failing to report?

Are child witnesses to domestic violence addressed in the statute? If yes, please explain

Do you think there is ever a good reason for a professional to fail to report child abuse?

Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect comprises public domain material from the US Department of Health
and Human Services. UMGC has modified this work.
July 2013
Disponible en español
Preventing Child
Abuse and Neglect
The statistics can feel overwhelming. In fiscal year 2011,
States reported that 676,569 children were victims of child
abuse or neglect (U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, 2012). However, child abuse and neglect are
preventable. State and local governments, community
organizations, and private citizens take action every day to
protect children. You can help, too. This factsheet provides
information on how communities and individual citizens
can strengthen families, protect children, and prevent child
abuse and neglect.
Use your smartphone to
access this factsheet online.
What’s Inside:
Prevention strategies
Protective factors
How you can help
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Children’s Bureau/ACYF/ACF/HHS
1250 Maryland Avenue, SW
Eighth Floor
Washington, DC 20024
Email: info@childwelfare.gov
Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect
Research shows that parents and caregivers
who have support—from family, friends,
neighbors, and their communities—are
more likely to provide safe and healthy
homes for their children. When parents lack
this support or feel isolated, they may be
more likely to make poor decisions that can
lead to neglect or abuse.
Increasingly, concerned citizens and
organizations are realizing that the best
way to prevent child maltreatment is to
help parents develop the skills and identify
the resources they need to understand and
meet their children’s emotional, physical,
and developmental needs and protect their
children from harm.
Prevention Strategies
Many State, local, and Tribal governments
sponsor prevention activities and
provide a variety of prevention services.
Some prevention efforts are intended
for everyone, such as public service
announcements (PSAs) aimed at raising
awareness about child maltreatment
within the general population. Others are
specifically targeted for individuals and
families who may be at greater risk for child
abuse or neglect.
Prevention requires a continuum of
strategies at the individual, relationship,
community, and societal levels. Another
key to success is providing prevention
services that are evidence based or evidence
informed. This means that rather than
relying on assumptions about what works,
research has been conducted to demonstrate
that a particular service actually improves
outcomes for children and families. This
helps service providers feel confident in
what they are doing, and it can help justify
a program’s continued funding when
resources are scarce.
Through its Community-Based Child
Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) grants, the
Children’s Bureau funds several evidencebased and evidence-informed State and local
prevention programs:
Child Welfare Information Gateway’s
Prevention Programs webpage highlights a
variety of programs that address child abuse
and neglect: https://www.childwelfare.gov/
Prevent Child Abuse America’s 50 chapters
nationwide sponsor a number of evidencebased, State-specific programs to help
individuals and communities prevent child
maltreatment. Use Prevent Child Abuse
America’s map to find your State’s chapter
and website: http://pcadb.cyberwoven.com/
State children’s trust and prevention funds
collectively distribute more than $100
million in funding each year to support
a diverse array of evidence-based and
innovative statewide and communitybased prevention strategies. Find your
local children’s trust or prevention fund
on the website of the National Alliance
of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds:
http://www.ctfalliance.org. The Alliance
supports these prevention strategies in the
States with training, technical assistance,
and publications, most of which are
available on the Alliance website.
This material may be freely reproduced and distributed. However, when doing so, please credit Child Welfare
Information Gateway. Available online at https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/preventingcan.cfm
Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect
Prevention programs are more effective
when they involve parents as partners
in all aspects of program planning,
implementation, and evaluation. Parents are
more likely to make lasting changes when
they are empowered to identify solutions
that make sense for them.
Common activities of prevention programs
• Public awareness campaigns, such
as PSAs, posters, and brochures that
promote healthy parenting, child
safety, and how to report suspected
• Skills-based curricula that teach children
safety and protection skills, such as
programs that focus on preventing sexual
• Parent education programs to help
parents develop positive parenting skills
and decrease behaviors associated with
child abuse and neglect
• Home visiting programs that provide
support and assistance to expecting and
new mothers in their homes
• Parent mentor or leadership programs
that provide role models and support to
families in crisis
• Parent support groups, where parents
work together to strengthen their families
and build social networks
of services to meet the specific needs
of the people who live in surrounding
The FRIENDS National Resource Center for
Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention, a
service of the Children’s Bureau, works closely
with Circle of Parents® to foster parent
leadership, education, and involvement. The
FRIENDS website has several resources for
parents, which are available at
Circle of Parents® provides a friendly,
supportive environment led by parents
and other caregivers where anyone in
a parenting role can openly discuss the
successes and challenges of raising children.
You can find more information about Circle
of Parents® at http://www.circleofparents.
Stop it Now! is a national organization
focused on preventing sexual abuse and
offers information, supports, and resources
for prevention. Some of its materials aimed
at parents include prevention tip sheets,
abuse warning signs tip sheets, and archives
of its publication PARENTtalk. PARENTtalk
was published from 1998 to 2007 and was
written by and for parents and caregivers of
youth with sexual behavior problems. These
resources and more are available on the Stop
it Now! website: http://www.stopitnow.org/
• Respite and crisis care programs, which
offer temporary relief to caregivers in
stressful situations by providing shortterm care for their children
• Family resource centers, which work with
community members to develop a variety
This material may be freely reproduced and distributed. However, when doing so, please credit Child Welfare
Information Gateway. Available online at https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/preventingcan.cfm
Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect
Protective Factors
Prevention programs have long focused
on reducing particular risk factors, or
conditions that research shows are
associated with child abuse and neglect.
Increasingly, prevention services are also
recognizing the importance of promoting
protective factors, circumstances in families
and communities that increase the health
and well-being of children and families.
These factors help parents who might
otherwise be at risk of abusing or neglecting
their children to find resources, supports, or
coping strategies that allow them to parent
effectively, even under stress.
The following six protective factors have
been linked to a lower incidence of child
abuse and neglect:
• Nurturing and attachment. When
parents and children have strong, warm
feelings for one another, children develop
trust that their parents will provide what
they need to thrive.
• Knowledge of parenting and of
child and youth development.
Parents who understand how children
grow and develop and know the typical
developmental milestones can provide an
environment where children can live up
to their potential.
• Parental resilience. Parents who are
emotionally resilient have a positive
attitude, creatively problem solve,
effectively address challenges, and are less
likely to direct anger and frustration at
their children.
• Social connections. Trusted and caring
family friends provide emotional support
to parents by offering encouragement and
assistance in facing the daily challenges
of raising a family.
• Concrete supports for parents.
Parents need basic resources such as food,
clothing, housing, transportation, and
access to essential services that address
family-specific needs (such as child care,
health care, and mental health services)
to ensure the health and well-being of
their children.
• Social and emotional competence.
Children with the ability to positively
interact with others, self-regulate their
behaviors, and communicate their
feelings have relationships that are more
positive with family, friends, and peers.
Children without these competencies
may be at greater risk for abuse.
Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting
Well-Being: A Network for Action 2013
Resource Guide supports service providers
in their work with parents, caregivers, and
their children to strengthen families and
prevent child abuse and neglect. While
this resource is aimed at child welfare
professionals, its helpful tip sheets for
parents and caregivers address a number of
parenting issues. The guide and tip sheets
are available on Child Welfare Information
Gateway’s website:
FRIENDS offers a Protective Factors Survey to
measure families’ protective factors: http://
This material may be freely reproduced and distributed. However, when doing so, please credit Child Welfare
Information Gateway. Available online at https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/preventingcan.cfm
Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect
How You Can Help
Parenting is one of the toughest and most
important jobs, and we all have a stake
in ensuring that parents have access to
the resources and support they need to be
successful. Entire communities play a role
in helping families find the strength they
need to raise safe, healthy, and productive
Here are some things you can do:
• Get to know your neighbors.
Problems seem less overwhelming when
support is nearby.
• Help a family under stress. Offer to
babysit, help with chores and errands, or
suggest resources in the community that
can help.
• Reach out to children in your
community. A smile or a word of
encouragement can mean a lot.
• Be an active community member.
Lend a hand at local schools, community
or faith-based organizations, children’s
hospitals, social service agencies, or other
places where families and children are
• Keep your neighborhood safe. Start
a Neighborhood Watch or plan a local
“National Night Out” community event.
You will get to know your neighbors
while helping to keep your neighborhood
and children safe.
• Learn how to recognize and report
signs of child abuse and neglect.
Reporting your concerns may protect a
child and get help for a family who needs
Safe, stable, and nurturing relationships are
paramount to healthy child development
and preventing child maltreatment.
Essentials for Childhood: Steps to Create
Safe, Stable, and Nurturing Relationships, a
guide from the National Center for Injury
Prevention, Division of Violence Prevention,
within the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, aims to help concerned
individuals and communities promote these
healthy relationships: http://www.cdc.gov/
More ideas for developing strong families in
your community are available in Preventing
Child Maltreatment and Promoting WellBeing: A Network for Action 2013 Resource
Guide: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/
Child Abuse and Neglect
Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect
Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect
Protective Factors Framework
This material may be freely reproduced and distributed. However, when doing so, please credit Child Welfare
Information Gateway. Available online at https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/preventingcan.cfm
Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect
What Is Child Abuse and Neglect? Recognizing
the Signs and Symptoms
Long-Term Consequences of Child Abuse and
U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services. (2012). Child Maltreatment 2011.
Washington, DC: Government Printing
Office. Retrieved from http://www.acf.
Suggested Citation:
Child Welfare Information Gateway.
(2013). Preventing child abuse and neglect.
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, Children’s
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Administration on Children, Youth and Families
Children’s Bureau
Protective & Promotive Factors
Being a parent can be a very rewarding and
joyful experience. But being a parent can
also have its share of stress. Parenting stress
is caused by the pressures (stressors) that are
placed on parents personally and in relation to
their child:
• typical events and life changes (e.g., moving
to a new city or not being able to soothe a
crying baby)
• unexpected events (e.g., losing a job
or discovering your child has a medical
• individual factors (e.g., substance abuse or
traumatic experiences)
• social factors (e.g., relationship problems or
feelings of loneliness and isolation)
• community, societal or environmental
conditions (e.g., persistent poverty, racism or
a natural disaster)
Numerous researchers have concluded that
how parents respond to stressors is much more
important than the stressor itself in determining
the outcomes for themselves and their children.
Parents are more likely to achieve healthy,
favorable outcomes if they are resilient.
Resilience is the process of managing stress
and functioning well even when faced with
challenges, adversity and trauma.
Some stressors parents face can be managed
easily so that problems get resolved; for
example, calling a relative or friend to pick-up
a child from school when a parent is delayed.
But some stressors cannot be easily resolved.
For example, parents cannot “fix” their child’s
developmental disability, erase the abuse they
suffered as a child or be able to move out
of a crime-plagued neighborhood. Rather,
parents are resilient when they are able to
call forth their inner strength to proactively
meet personal challenges and those in relation
to their child, manage adversities, heal the
effects of trauma and thrive given the unique
characteristics and circumstances of their family.
Demonstrating resilience increases parents’
self-efficacy because they are able to see
evidence of both their ability to face challenges
competently and to make wise choices about
addressing challenges. Furthermore, parental
resilience has a positive effect on the parent,
the child and the parent-child relationship. By
managing stressors, parents feel better and
can provide more nurturing attention to their
child, which enables their child to form a secure
emotional attachment. Receiving nurturing
attention and developing a secure emotional
attachment with parents, in turn, fosters the
development of resilience in children when they
experience stress.
Sometimes the pressures parents face are so
overwhelming that their ability to manage stress
is severely compromised. This is the case with
parents who grew up in environments that
create toxic stress. That is, as children, they
experienced strong, frequent and prolonged
adversity without the buffering protection
of nurturing adult support. As a result, these
parents may display symptoms of depression,
anxiety, or other clinical disorders that inhibit
their ability to respond consistently, warmly and
sensitively to their child’s needs. For example,
depressive symptoms in either mothers or
fathers are found to disrupt healthy parenting
practices so that the child of a depressed
parent is at increased risk of poor attachments,
maltreatment and poor physical, neurological,
social-emotional, behavioral and cognitive
outcomes. However, numerous research studies
show parents can be helped to manage clinical
symptoms and reactions to their own histories
of poor attachments and trauma, to protect
children from adversity and trauma as best they
can and to provide more nurturing care that
promotes secure emotional attachment and
healthy development in their children.
All parents experience stress from time-totime. Thus, parental resilience is a process that
all parents need in order effectively manage
stressful situations and help ensure they and
their families are on a trajectory of healthy,
positive outcomes.
Your role
Your daily interactions with parents can help them to build their resilience and their belief in themselves
as parents and capable decision-makers. You can:
Projecting a positive and strengths-based approach to all families
Support parents as key decision-makers for their families and provide opportunities for decisionmaking that affects the program or community
Encourage parents to take care of themselves, particularly during stressful times
Normalize the fact that parenting is stressful and help the parent plan proactively about how to
respond to stressful parenting situations
Validate and support good decisions
Questions to ask
Where do you draw your strength?
How does this help you in parenting?
What are your dreams for yourself and family?
What kind of worries and frustrations do you deal with during the day? How do you solve them?
How are you able to meet your children’s needs when you are stressed?
How does your spouse, partner, or closest friend support you? When you are under stress, what
is most helpful?
What do you do to take care of yourself when you are stressed?
What to look for
Problem solving skills
Ability to cope with stress
Self-care strategies
Help-seeking behavior
Receiving mental health or substance abuse services if needed
Not allowing stress to impact parenting
Activities to do with parents
Ask the parent to write down their self-care strategies and ensure that they are taking time for
self-care each day.
Ask the parent to identify situations they find stressful and make a plan in advance for how they
will keep themselves calm and centered in these circumstances.
Protective & Promotive Factors
People need people. Parents need people
who care about them and their children, who
can be good listeners, who they can turn to
for well-informed advice and who they can
call on for help in solving problems. Thus, the
availability and quality of social connections are
important considerations in the lives of parents.
Parents’ constructive and supportive social
connections—that is, relationships with family
members, friends, neighbors, co-workers,
community members and service providers—
are valuable resources who provide:
• emotional support (e.g., affirming
parenting skills or being empathic and nonjudgmental)
• informational support (e.g., providing
parenting guidance or recommending a
pediatric dentist)
• instrumental support (e.g., providing
transportation, financial assistance or links to
• spiritual support (e.g., providing hope and
When parents have a sense of connectedness
they believe they have people who care about
them as individuals and as parents; they feel
secure and confident that they have others
with whom they can share the joy, pain and
uncertainties that come with the parenting
role; they seek timely assistance from people
they have learned to count on when faced with
challenges; and they feel empowered to “give
back” through satisfying, mutually beneficial
relationships. Several research studies have
demonstrated that—for both mothers and
fathers—high levels of emotional, informational,
instrumental or spiritual support is associated
with positive parental mood; positive
perceptions of and responsiveness to one’s
children; parental satisfaction, well-being and
sense of competence; and lower levels of anger,
anxiety and depression.
Conversely, inadequate, conflicting or
dissatisfying social connections can be the
source of parental stress, rather than a buffer. For
example, maternal and paternal grandparents
may be very willing sources of informational and
instrumental support to new parents, but their
advice and manner of caregiving may be at odds
with the new parents’ beliefs and preferences.
At the extreme end of the continuum of poor
social connections are social isolation (i.e., the
lack of available and quality relationships) and
loneliness (i.e., feelings of disconnectedness
from others). Social isolation is a risk factor
consistently associated with disengaged
parenting, maternal depression and increased
likelihood of child maltreatment. Similarly,
loneliness may be a major stressor that inhibits
parents’ ability to provide consistent, nurturing,
responsive care to their children.
It may seem that increasing the number
of people who could provide constructive
social support to parents would be the
“cure” for social isolation and loneliness.
Providing opportunities for parents to create
and strengthen sustainable, positive social
connections is necessary but alone is not
sufficient. Parents can feel lonely and isolated
even when surrounded by others if relationships
lack emotional depth and genuine acceptance.
Thus, parents need opportunities to forge
positive social connections with at least
one other person that engender emotional,
informational, instrumental or spiritual support
so that meaningful interactions may occur in a
context of mutual trust and respect.
Constructive and supportive social connections
help buffer parents from stressors and support
nurturing parenting behaviors that promote
secure attachments in young children. Therefore,
parents’ high quality social connections are
beneficial to both the adults and the children.
Your role
You can help parents to think critically about their social network and how they could utilize it more
effectively, as well as the skills and tools they need to expand it. The following strategies may assist you
in engaging families in developing social connections:
Model good relational behavior and use your interactions with families as an opportunity to help
parents develop stronger relational skills
When engaging the family’s broader network in teaming or other supports, be sensitive to the
quality of existing relationships and help the family identify supporters in their network who will
contribute positively
Invite parents to events where they can get to know each other – with or without their kids – and
reach out especially to those parents that may be socially isolated
If there are specific issues that serve as barriers for the family in developing healthy social
connections such as anxiety or depression, encourage the family to address them
Questions to ask
Do you have friends or family members that help you out once in a while?
Are you a member of any groups or organizations?
Who can you call for advice or just to talk? How often do you see them?
What kind of social support do you need?
Do you find it easy or challenging to make friends? If it is challenging, what specific things
represent a barrier for you?
What helps you feel connected?
What to look for
Does the parent have supportive relationships with one or more persons (friends, family,
neighbors, community, faith- based organizations, etc.)?
Can the parent turn to their social network for help in times of need (for instance, when they need
help with transportation, childcare or other resources)?
Is the parent willing and able to accept assistance from others?
Does the parent have positive relationships with other parents of same-age kids?
Does the parent have skills for establishing and maintaining social relationships?
Does the parent provide reciprocal social support to peers?
Activities to do with parents
Work with the parent to develop an EcoMap showing the people and institutions that are sources
of support and/or stress in his or her life.
Role play with the parent to help them practice skills in approaching another parent to develop a
friendship. Have the parent choose a realistic scenario such as starting a conversation at a
school event, on the playground or at a place of worship.
Knowledge of Parenting
and Child Development
Protective & Promotive Factors
No parent knows everything about children
or is a “perfect parent.” An understanding of
parenting strategies and child development
helps parents understand what to expect and
how to provide what children need during
each developmental phase. All parents, and
those who work with children, can benefit from
increasing their knowledge and understanding of
child development, including:
• physical, cognitive, language, social and
emotional development
• signs indicating a child may have a
developmental delay and needs special help
• cultural factors that influence parenting
practices and the perception of children
• factors that promote or inhibit healthy child
• discipline and how to positively impact child
Gaining more knowledge about child
development and developing greater skills in
parenting are particularly important given the
recent advances in the fields of neuroscience,
pediatrics and developmental psychology.
Scientists in these fields have provided much
evidence of the critical importance of early
childhood as the period in which the foundation
for intellectual, social, emotional and moral
development is established. Furthermore,
numerous research studies show this foundation
is determined by the nature of the young child’s
environments and experiences that shape early
brain development.
Developing brains need proper nutrition,
regularly scheduled periods of sleep, physical
activity and a variety of stimulating experiences.
Developing brains also need attuned,
emotionally available parents and other primary
caregivers who recognize and consistently
respond to the needs of young children, and
interact with them in an affectionate, sensitive
and nurturing manner. Such care gives rise to the
development of a secure attachment between
the child and the adult. Young children with
secure attachments develop a sense of trust, feel
safe, gain self-confidence and are able to explore
their environments because they feel they have a
secure base.
Numerous longitudinal studies have
demonstrated that parental behaviors that lead
to early secure attachments—and which remain
warm and sensitive as children grow older—lay
the foundation for social-emotional, cognitive
and moral competencies across developmental
periods. For example, when a young child
solicits interaction through babbling or facial
expressions and a parent responds in a similar
manner, this type of parent-child interaction
helps to create neural connections that build
later social-emotional and cognitive skills.
In addition, advances in brain research have
shown that parental behaviors that forge secure
emotional attachments help young children learn
to manage stress. Secure attachments can offset
some of the damage experienced by highly
stressed young children as a result of trauma
(e.g., maltreatment or exposure to violence.)
In contrast, parental care that is inconsistent,
unresponsive, detached, hostile or rejecting
gives rise to insecure attachments. Young
children who experience insecure attachments
display fear, distrust, anxiety or distress and are
at risk for long-term adverse effects on brain
development including developmental delays,
cognitive impairments, conduct problems,
psychopathology and relationship challenges.
For example, young children who have limited
adult language stimulation and opportunities
to explore may not fully develop the neural
pathways that support learning.
What parents do and how they treat children is
often a reflection of the way they were parented.
Acquiring new knowledge about parenting and
child development enables parents to critically
evaluate the impact of their experiences on their
own development and their current parenting
practices, and to consider that there may be
more effective ways of guiding and responding
to their children. Furthermore, understanding
the mounting evidence about the nature and
importance of early brain development enables
both parents and those who work with children
to know what young children need most in
order to thrive: nurturing, responsive, reliable
and trusting relationships; regular, predictable
and consistent routines; interactive language
experiences; a physically and emotionally safe
environment; and opportunities to explore and
to learn by doing.
Your role
Each contact you have with the family provides an important opportunity to link them to parenting resources, provide child
development information and model and validate effective caregiving. You can:
Connect parents to parenting education classes or home visiting as appropriate for their situation
Model appropriate expectations for the child
Engage parents in dialogue when their expectations are not in line with the child’s developmental phase
Underline the importance of nurturing care to help the parent in valuing the importance of their own role
Provide “just in time” parenting education: crucial information a parent needs at the time when parenting issues
Help the parent identify a series of trusted informants that they can turn to when they need parenting information
Questions to ask
What does your child do best and what do you like about your child?
What do you like about parenting? What do you find challenging about parenting?
How have you learned about parenting skills?
How do you continue to learn about your child’s development?
What has helped you learn about yourself as a parent?
Are there things that worry you about your child’s development or behavior?
Have other people expressed concern about your child?
What to look for
Does the parent understand and encourage healthy development?
Is the parent able to respond and manage their child’s behavior?
Does the parent understand and demonstrate age-appropriate parenting skills in their expectations, discipline,
communication, protection and supervision of their child?
Does the child respond positively to the caregivers’ approaches?
Does the parent understand and value their parenting role?
Does the parent have a reliable source for parenting information when issues come up?
Does the parent know how to encourage social-emotional development and apply a range of age-appropriate
disciplinary strategies?
Is the parent involved in their child’s school, preschool or other activities?
Does the parent understand the child’s specific needs (especially if the child has special developmental or
behavioral needs)?
Activities to do with parents
Ask the parent what their hopes and dreams are for their child(ren). Discuss any worries the parent has about
ensuring those hopes and dreams are met. Then discuss what the parent is doing today (or wants to do) to help
achieve those hopes and dreams.
Concrete Support in
Times of Need
Protective & Promotive Factors
All parents need help sometimes—help with
the day-to-day care of children, help in figuring
out how to soothe a colicky baby, help getting
to the emergency room when a bad accident
happens, help in managing one’s own temper
when fatigued or upset. When parents are faced
with very trying conditions such as losing a job,
home foreclosure, substance abuse, not being
able to feed their family or trauma, they need
access to concrete support and services that
address their needs and help to minimize the
stress caused by very difficult challenges and
adversity. Assisting parents to identify, find and
receive concrete support in times of need helps
to ensure they and their family receive the basic
necessities everyone deserves in order to grow
(e.g., healthy food, a safe environment), as well
as specialized medical, mental health, social,
educational or legal services.
When parents are faced with overwhelmingly
stressful conditions they need to seek help,
but for some parents asking for help is not an
easy thing to do. It may be embarrassing for
some parents because it feels like an admission
of incompetence; that they don’t know how
to solve their own problems or take care of
their family. Other parents may not seek help
because they don’t know where to go for help,
or the services needed have a stigma associated
with them such as mental health clinics and
domestic violence or homeless shelters. Thus,
parents need experiences that enable them to
understand their rights in accessing services,
gain knowledge of relevant services and learn
how to navigate through service systems.
Family and child-serving programs must clearly
communicate to parents that seeking help is not
an indicator of weakness or failure as a parent.
On the contrary, seeking help is a step toward
improving one’s circumstances and learning to
better manage stress and function well—even
when faced with challenges, adversity, and
trauma. When parents ask for help, it is a step
toward building resilience.
When parents seek help, it should be provided
in a manner that does not increase stress.
Services should be coordinated, respectful,
caring and strengths-based. Strengths-based
practice is grounded in the beliefs that:
• It is essential to forge a trusting relationship
between parents and service providers and
among service providers working with the
same families
• Regardless of the number or level of adverse
conditions parents are experiencing, they
have assets within and around them, their
family and their community that can be
called upon to help mitigate the impact of
stressful conditions and to create needed
• Parents have unrealized resources and
competencies that must be identified,
mobilized and appreciated
• Parents must be active participants in the
change process and not passive recipients of
• Parents must first be guided through, and
subsequently learn how to navigate, the
complex web of health care and social
service systems
• In addition to addressing each parent’s
individual difficulties, strengths-based
practitioners must understand—and work
to change—the structural inequities and
conditions that contribute to these difficulties
A strengths-based approach helps parents
feel valued because they are acknowledged as
knowledgeable and competent. They develop
a sense of self-confidence and self-efficacy
because they have opportunities to build their
skills, experience success and provide help
to others. Thus, access to concrete support
in times of need must be accompanied by a
quality of service coordination and delivery
that is designed to preserve parents’ dignity
and to promote their and their family’s healthy
development, resilience and ability to advocate
for and receive needed services and resources.
Your role
As a professional working with families, your role is not just to provide referrals to needed services, but to
identify any barriers the families may have in accessing those services. Helping families overcome those
barriers is crucial to ensuring that their concrete needs are met. Such help may entail:
Encouraging help seeking behavior
Working with the family to understand their past experience with service systems and any stigma
they attach to certain services
Helping the family to navigate complex systems by explaining eligibility requirements, filling out
forms or making a warm handoff to an individual who can help them negotiate getting access to
the services they need
Helping the parent understand their role as an advocate for themselves and their child
Giving parents opportunities to help meet concrete needs of other families in the program or the
community, to encourage reciprocity
Questions to ask when a family is in need
What do you need to _________ (stay in your house, keep your job, pay your heating bill etc.)?
What have you done to handle the problem? Has this worked?
Are there community groups or local services that you have worked with in the past? What has
been your experience accessing their services?
Are there specific barriers that have made it difficult for you to access services in the past?
How does dealing with these issues impact the way you parent?
What to look for
Is the parent open to accessing and utilizing services?
Has the parent had positive experiences with services in the past?
Does the parent have specific barriers (literacy, lack of transportation, etc.) that will make it
difficult to access services?
Are there personal behavioral traits (e.g., punctuality, willingness to share personal information,
etc.) that the parent could address to more effectively utilize services?
Does the parent try to buffer the child from the stress caused by the family’s concrete needs?
Activities to do with parents
Ask the parent to identify one concrete need that, if met, would lighten his or her burden. Come
up with a list of at least three possible avenues to get that need met (e.g., agencies to approach,
people to ask for help, cutting back on other expenses).
Talk to the parent about what their family’s socioeconomic status was in their childhood and what
effect that had on them. Discuss things their parents did or did not do to buffer them from the
stress of poverty, to teach them the value of money or to make sure their needs were met.
Competence of Children
Protective & Promotive Factors
Early childhood is a period of both great
opportunity and vulnerability. Early childhood
experiences set the stage for later health, wellbeing and learning. In the past, most of the
focus was on building young children’s academic
skills in an effort to ensure they were prepared
for school. However, in recent years a growing
body of research has demonstrated the strong
link between young children’s social-emotional
competence and their cognitive development,
language skills, mental health and school
success. The dimensions of social-emotional
competence in early childhood include:
• self-esteem – good feelings about oneself
• self-confidence – being open to new
challenges and willing to explore new
• self-efficacy – believing that one is capable of
performing an action
• self-regulation/self-control – following rules,
controlling impulses, acting appropriately
based on the context
• personal agency – planning and carrying out
purposeful actions
• executive functioning – staying focused on a
task and avoiding distractions
• patience – learning to wait
• persistence – willingness to try again when
first attempts are not successful
• conflict resolution – resolving disagreements
in a peaceful way
• communication skills – understanding and
expressing a range of positive and negative
• empathy – understanding and responding to
the emotions and rights of others
• social skills – making friends and getting
along with others
• morality – learning a sense of right and
These dimensions of social-emotional
competence do not evolve naturally. The course
of social-emotional development—whether
healthy or unhealthy—depends on the quality
of nurturing attachment and stimulation that a
child experiences. Numerous research studies
show that a relationship with a consistent, caring
and attuned adult who actively promotes the
development of these dimensions is essential
for healthy social-emotional outcomes in young
children. Actively promoting social-emotional
competence includes activities such as:
• Creating an environment in which children
feel safe to express their emotions
• Being emotionally responsive to children and
modeling empathy
• Setting clear expectations and limits (e.g.,
“People in our family don’t hurt each other.”)
• Separating emotions from actions (e.g., “It’s
okay to be angry, but we don’t hit someone
when we are angry.”)
• Encouraging and reinforcing social skills such
as greeting others and taking turns
• Creating opportunities for children to solve
problems (e.g., “What do you think you
should do if another child calls you a bad
Children who have experiences such as
these are able to recognize their and others’
emotions, take the perspective of others and
use their emerging cognitive skills to think about
appropriate and inappropriate ways of acting.
Conversely, research shows children who do not
have adults in their lives who actively promote
social-emotional competence may not be able
to feel remorse or show empathy and may lack
secure attachments, have limited language
and cognitive skills and have a difficult time
interacting effectively with their peers. Evidence
shows, however, that early and appropriate
interventions that focus on social-emotional
development can help to mitigate the effects
of negative experiences in ways that lead
to improved cognitive and social-emotional
Your role
It is important to increase parents’ awareness of the importance of early relationships and of their role in nurturing
their child’s social-emotional development by:
Providing concrete tips and resources to parents to help them build their skills
Modeling developmentally appropriate interactions with children that help them to recognize and manage
their emotions and build other social and emotional skills
Connecting families to resources that can help support their children’s social-emotional development—
these might be simple (such as classes like Second Step, or books and games that help children to name
or recognize their emotions) or more intensive (such as mental health counseling)
Staying attuned to trauma and how it impacts the child’s behaviors and relationships, including taking time
to explain and discuss children’s behavior with parents when they are “acting out” due to trauma
Questions to ask
How is the emotional relationship between you and your child?
How do you express love and affection to your child?
How do you help your child express his or her emotions?
In what situations are your child’s emotions hard for you to deal with?
What to look for
Does the child feel safe to express emotions in the relationship with the parent?
Is the parent emotionally responsive to the child?
Does the parent model empathy?
Does the parent set clear expectations and limits (e.g., “People in our family don’t hurt each other”)?
Does the parent separate emotions from actions (e.g., “It’s okay to be angry, but we don’t hit someone
when we are angry”)?
Does the parent encourage and reinforce social skills such as greeting others and taking turns?
Does the parent create opportunities for children to solve problems? (e.g., “What do you think you should
do if another child calls you a bad name?”)?
Activities to do with parents
Have the parent sketch out (or write out) an interaction with their child. Begin with an experience that
typically makes the child happy, sad, frustrated or angry. Then have the parent illustrate or describe what
the child does when he or she feels those emotions, how the parent responds and how the child responds.
Identify and talk through positive or negative patterns in the interaction.
Ask the parent to think of an adult who they loved as a child. What was it about the relationship with that
adult that made it so important? Ask them what elements of that relationship they can replicate in their
relationship with their child(ren).
CSSP’s Protective and
Promotive Factors
The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) works to create new ideas and promote
public policies that produce equal opportunities and better futures for all children and
families, especially those most often left behind. The foundation of all of CSSP’s work is a
child, family and community well-being framework that includes a focus on protective and
promotive factors. Using an ecological perspective:
protective factors are conditions or attributes of individuals, families, communities or
the larger society that mitigate or eliminate risk
promotive factors are conditions or attributes of individuals, families, communities or
the larger society that actively enhance well-being
Taken together, protective and promotive factors increase the probability of
positive, adaptive and healthy outcomes, even in the face of risk and adversity.
The Strengthening Families™ and Youth Thrive™ frameworks exemplify CSSP’s
commitment to identify, communicate and apply research-informed ideas that contribute
to the healthy development and well-being of children, youth and families. As numerous
studies affirm the importance of early childhood experiences in influencing adolescent and
adult behavior, these frameworks provide a view of two interrelated phases of the lifespan
developmental continuum: Strengthening Families focuses on families of young children
(0-5 years old) and Youth Thrive on youth ages 11-26.
The Strengthening Families
Protective Factors
The Youth Thrive Protective and
Promotive Factors
Parental Resilience
Youth Resilience
Social Connections
Social Connections
Knowledge of Parenting and
Child Development
Knowledge of Adolescent
Concrete Support in Times of
Concrete Support in Times of
Social-Emotional Competence
of Children
Cognitive and Social-Emotional
Competence in Youth
Parents, system administrators, program developers, service providers and policymakers
can each benefit from learning about and using the Strengthening Families and Youth
Thrive frameworks in their efforts to ensure that children, youth and families are on a path
that leads to healthy development and well-being.
BEHS453: Domestic Violence
Week Five
Child Abuse
Child Abuse
According to federal law:
“Any recent act or failure to act on the part
of a parent or caretaker which results in
death, serious physical or emotional harm,
sexual abuse or exploitation” – or ”An act or failure to act which presents an
imminent risk of serious harm.”
Source: Children’s Bureau (2015) – https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/can/defining/federal/
When is it abusive?
• No clear definitions
• Lots of “grey area”
• What is discipline vs. abuse?
• Largely defined by impact on the child
Case 1
A 1 year old child reaches for the side of a
hot woodstove. Which of the following are
appropriate and which are child abuse?
1.You allow the child to touch the stove to
teach her a lesson
2.You say “hot” and slap the child’s hand
3.You move the child to another part of the
room without any infliction of punishment.
Case 2
A 2 year old child throws food off the table during
1. You go on with dinner and tell the child not to
do that anymore
2. You require the child to pick up the food and eat
3. You send the child to bed without allowing him
to finish dinner.
4. You pick up the food and force the child to eat it
by stuffing it in his mouth.
Case 3
A 4 year old child swears at you:
1.You tell the child to stop and not to do
that again.
2.You wash the child’s mouth out with
strong soap.
3.You spank the child in a mild manner.
4.You use a belt on the child’s legs and
Things to consider:
Lesson to be learned
Potential for harm
Image source: http://www.thomasvalek.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/fatherscolding-300×168.jpg
Historical perspectives on
Image source: http://dadforbeginners.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/childs+walker+detail-298×300.jpg
Ancient Egypt (3000-1000 BCE)
Childhood was brief
ï‚— Children breast-fed until 3 years of age
ï‚— By 5-6 years of age, children began
training for adult jobs
Ancient Greece
(490-323 BCE)
Children considered property, chattel
ï‚— Newborns could be rejected on the basis
of gender or deformity and left to die of
ï‚— Once accepted, parents were attentive
and comforting 2
Image source: http://quatr.us/greeks/people/babies.jpg
Middle Ages
Children allowed to play and
be children until about 6-7
years of age
At 7, children were considered
old enough to enter into a
Expected to start learning and
working (e.g. school, learning
a trade)
Poor children were disfigured
to be more sympathetic
Image source: http://cdn1.bigcommerce.com/n-yp39j5/cq5hva/product_images/uploaded_images/child-miner-the-book-of-sim.jpg?t=1411000710
Industrial Revolution
High demand for labor
ï‚— Textile factories:
ï‚— Children worked 12+ hours every day under
terrible, unsafe conditions
 1833 Factory Act – banned children under the
age of 9 from working in factories; BUT, 9-13 year
olds could work 12 hour days, and 13-18 year olds
could work up to 69 hours a week
ï‚— Coal mines used children as young as 5 until mid
Mary Ellen Wilson (1874)
• 10 year old adopted child
• Beaten and starved by adoptive
• Mission worker reported to NYC
police, but there were no laws
protecting battered children
• Prosecuted mother under law
against cruelty to animals
(ASPCA lawyers)
• Led to formation of Society for
Prevention of Cruelty to Children
The Great Depression
Jobs were scarce
ï‚— Outcry against child labor practices
 Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 –
banned child labor in factories and mining
Image source: http://img.tfd.com/WEAL/weal_02_img0409.jpg
Source: http://www.history.com/topics/child-labor
Child labor today
In developed countries, child labor highly
regulated due to Fair Labor laws
ï‚— In developing countries, child labor still
considered necessary.
ï‚— In 2004, 218 million children around the
world in the labor force
Image source: https://lwephoto.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/img_9773.jpg?w=600&h=400
Takeaways about “childhood”
“Childhood” is a fairly recent concept
ï‚— Historically, children were viewed strictly
as property or labor
ï‚— Mirrors societal views on women re: rights
and domestic violence
Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/08/Child_play_large.jpg
Historical Perspectives on
Parenting practices have been influenced
Economic and political conditions
Religion and parenting
Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all
emphasize the importance of children and
 Confucianism – children raised to
respect elders (“filial piety”)
ï‚— Parenting practices dictated by core
beliefs about the nature of children upon
Children as sinners
Early Christians believed that
children are born with original
What is the role of parents if this
is true?
Correction through discipline and
Fathers take the lead because
they are stronger and wiser.
Mothers are overly indulgent.
Image source (St. Augustine): https://mapleseed.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/st-augustine-icon1.jpg
Image source (Calvin): https://riversofjoybaptist.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/john-calvin-quote-1.jpg
Children as sinners
Puritans (16th- 17th c.) – used public
shaming to punish children
Image source: http://doroteos2.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/puritans.jpg?w=760&h=496
Children as sinners
John Wesley (1703-1791) –
founder of Methodist Church –
advocated for frequent
corporal punishment
 2004 – United Methodist
Church banned corporal
Philosophy and
John Locke (1632-1704)
Age of Enlightenment (17th and 18th c.) – age of
rational thought and scientific reasoning
ï‚— 1693- Wrote influential parenting manual – “Some
thoughts concerning education”
 “Tabula Rasa” – children are born as blank slates,
not as sinners
ï‚— Parents provide love, stimulation, and
encouragement to fill the slate
ï‚— Reason is better than punishment
Image source: http://www.bl.uk/britishlibrary/~/media/bl/global/english-online/collection-items-manual/l/o/c/locke-john-some-b20138-20.jpg?w=608&h=342
Philosophy and parenting
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (17121778)
ï‚— Children are born innocent and
ï‚— Society is a corrupting force
ï‚— Children reach the age of reason
(consent) at 12
ï‚— Parents should let nature take its
ï‚— Against corporal punishment
ï‚— Advocated for breastfeeding by
mothers (not wet nurses)
Image source (Rousseau): https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/Jean-Jacques_Rousseau_(painted_portrait).jpg
Image source (Emile): http://jochenebmeier.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/rousseau-emile.jpg
Medicine and parenting
Until the Age of Enlightenment, healing
was often based on superstition
ï‚— Physicians seen as experts – had strong
influence on parenting
ï‚— Very little parenting advice from the
medical community was based in research
until after the 1950’s
Image source: http://www.clipartbest.com/cliparts/pc5/eeo/pc5eeordi.jpeg
Luther Emmett Holt (1855-1924)
1894 – “The Care and Feeding of
Informed parents about
developmental milestones, proper
infant care, and home remedies
Discouraged kissing, playing, or
soothing babies
Encouraged rigid schedules for
feeding and sleeping
Approved of tying infant hands to
crib to stop thumb sucking
Leading book on parenting for 50
Image source (Holt): http://www.dkerrcreative.com/upstate/doctors/luther_emmett_holt.jpg
Image source (book):http://joettecalabrese.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2015-04-19-09.52.51-1024×579.jpg
Benjamin Spock (1903-1998)
Raised on Holt’s principles
 1945 – “The Common Sense Book
of Baby and Child Care”
ï‚— Parents should enjoy their children
and trust themselves
ï‚— Encouraged affection
ï‚— Encouraged letting children express
ï‚— Discouraged feeding schedules
ï‚— Against physical punishment
ï‚— Most popular parenting book in
history – 39 languages, 50 million
copies (1998)
Image source (Dr. Spock):https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTyuMxVmHiKIfe6nC8UM0SYmduPMCimWMSWy7K_f68Z8cRU18cO
Image source (book): http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Dr.-Spocks-book.jpg
Psychology and Parenting
G. Stanley Hall (1844-1924)
ï‚— 1st PhD in Psychology
awarded in the US
ï‚— Believed young children are
savages and require physical
ï‚— Believed in conformity above
ï‚— Despised weakness or
deformity – advocated for
forced sterilization and
selective breeding
Image source: http://cdn.quotesgram.com/img/22/29/1189510259-tumblr_lp88tq6Fex1qm8sgyo1_500.jpg
Psychology and Parenting
John Watson (1878-1958)
ï‚— 1928 – Wrote companion to Holt’s
parenting book -“Psychological
Care of Infant and Child”
 Behaviorist – ignored genetics
ï‚— No punishment (because most
people don’t do it correctly)
 No sentimentality or emotion – no
kissing, hugging, or affection –
maybe a pat on the head for a job
very well done
Image source (Watson): https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/ba/John_Broadus_Watson.JPG/220px-John_Broadus_Watson.JPG
Image source (book): http://infantnutritiontrends.farmboxvi.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Watson.png
Psychology and Parenting
Watson later admitted he should not have
written the book because he was not an expert
Watson’s children were raised on strict
schedules and no affection – all 4 had serious
alcohol and psychological problems (2
attempted suicide, 1 succeeded)
• Granddaughter and actress
Mariette Hartley revealed how
damaging Watson’s parenting
practices were on his children and
Image source: http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/memoryalpha/images/8/81/Zarabeth.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20050806071418&path-prefix=en
What is the problem with these
All opinion-based
Sometimes heavily biased
Not based on scientific theory
Not based on scientific research
Childhood, parenting, and the ways in
which we discipline children are socially
ï‚— Created, valued, normalized, sustained,
and transmitted by society
Image source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/05/9c/44/059c4432ce396b3ecb32ca09ab0e7ffb.jpg
Origin of the word
From the Latin “disciplinam”
Main goals of discipline
Helping children to get along with others
ï‚— Teaching child right from wrong
ï‚— Allowing children to learn from mistakes
ï‚— Shift control for behavior from parent to
child – builds autonomy, competence
Image sources: http://parentingforeveryone.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/child_development_stages.jpg
How do we teach discipline?
B.F. Skinner (1904 – 1990)
Operant Conditioning
â—¦ The consequences of a behavior has an effect on
the future occurrence of that behavior
A word about punishment
Unlike positive or negative
reinforcement, punishment doesn’t
teach the child how to behave in a selfdirected, socially-acceptable way
ï‚— Punishment teaches child to stop a
behavior, but not how to correct it
ï‚— Used to assert parental authority
Facts about child abuse
Numbers vary because of problems with definition
Reliable sources of information:
• National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System
(NCANDS) from state CPS agencies
• U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration on Children, Youth and Families
Scope and Scale
1999: 829,000 child abuse/neglect cases
2001: 1,070,000 cases/3.24 million reports
2003: 906,000 child abuse/neglect cases
2005: 899,000 cases/ 3.3 million reports
2013: 679,000 cases/2.9 million reports
(*60% reported by mandatory reporters)
Since 1972
Who is required to report?
• Social workers
• Teachers, principals, and other school personnel
• Physicians, nurses, and other health-care
• Counselors, therapists, and other mental health
• Child care providers
• Medical examiners or coroners
• Law enforcement officers
Child Abuse Prevention and
Treatment Act (CAPTA) – 1974
• Funded programs to help individuals
identify and report child abuse
• Funded shelter programs and other
protective services to victims of child
What kind of abuse?
Physical abuse
Sexual abuse
Emotional/psychological abuse
Medical neglect
(USDHHS, 2007)
Who is the abuser?
80% of cases – parents
45.3% male abuser
53.5% female abuser
No typical profile
Who are the victims?
Average age: 8 years
Risk factors:
• Low birth weight
• Disabled
• Children with developmental disabilities
• Poor children (5x more likely to be abused,
7xmore likely to suffer serious injury)
• Families with larger number of children
Race not associated with abuse – confounded with
Forces in family violence
• Isolation, secrecy
• Power differential between abuser and
• Powerlessness in one setting can lead to
abuse of less powerful in another setting
• Substance abuse – not a cause, but an
excuse for the abuser and the victim
Deaths due to child abuse/neglect
• 1,356 deaths
• 78% under the age of 7
• 40% under the age of 1
• 1,500 deaths
• 78.7% under the age of 4
• 1,593 deaths
• 70.3% under the age of 3
• 44.4% under the age of 1
• 51% deaths caused by physical abuse
• 43% deaths caused by neglect
• Mothers more likely to kill babies in the
1st week of life
• Fathers/Step-fathers more likely to kill
children from 1 week to 3 years
• Homicide of children over 3 years
usually not a relative
Physical Abuse
“Any act that results in a non-accidental
physical injury by a person who has care,
custody, or control of a child” (Wallace,
2)Results in physical injury
Detecting physical abuse
• Location and types of injuries
• Behavioral/psychological symptoms
• Explanation of injuries – no explanation or
implausible explanation
• Different versions of the incident from
different people
• Different versions of the incident from the
same person
• Delay in seeking medical attention
Battered Child Syndrome
• 1962 – C. Henry Kempe
• Medical diagnosis
• Raised awareness of child abuse
across medicine
“Battered child syndrome refers to injuries
sustained by a child as a result of physical
abuse, usually inflicted by an adult caregiver.”
• Contrast with “Battered Woman Syndrome” –
psychiatric condition
Source: http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/battered+child+syndrome
• Look at timing of injury (color of bruise)
• Location of bruise
• Pattern of bruise (e.g. raccoon eyes,
• Accidental bruises are circular or oval with
nondistinct edges
• Rule out skin conditions
Images: http://www.australiandoctor.com.au/getattachment/News/Bruising-pattern-a-warning-sign-forGPs/childabusegraphic-1.jpg.aspx
• 1st degree – sunburn-like, heals on its own
• 2nd degree – some skin damage, blisters with
clear fluid, pink under tissue
• 3rd degree – red underlying tissue, severe or
complete skin damage, bloody blisters
Burns in child abuse
• Victim usually under 3 years old
• Burn marks in areas normally covered
by clothing are suspicious
• Rule out skin conditions
Common burns in child abuse
• Water immersion – placing child in scalding
hot water
• often due to frustration over toilet training
• child is restrained, outline of burn is clear
• Pattern burns – holding child against a hot
• Intentional burns leave symmetrical, deep
imprints with clear margins
• Cigarette burns – deep and circular, grouped
• Children with numerous fractures – almost
always indicates abuse
• Example: Clavicle fractures – common
accidental break, but frequent breaks,
inconsistent explanation may suggest abuse
Most common abuse injuries:
1) Avulsion of metaphysical tips from
jerking, twisting
2) Rib, sternum, scapula fractures –
blunt force trauma, compression
3) Skull fractures
Spiral fractures
• Common skiing injury in
• In children, almost
always abuse
• Children have pliable
• Falling doesn’t generate
enough force to create a
spiral fracture
Head Injury
• Most common cause of death in abused children
• Usually a direct blow to the head or being
thrown against a wall
• Violent shaking can cause bleeding in brain
membranes (subdural hematoma)
• Less serious injuries
• Concussion – mild diffuse brain injury
• Cerebral contusion – bruising without
damage to membranes
Shaken Baby Syndrome
• Usually in children under 3 years, mostly under 1
• Violent shaking with head whipping back and
• Results in cerebral contusion or subdural
• Symptoms: seizures, irritability, problems with
tone, impaired consciousness, breathing problems
• Men more likely to shake babies (2 to 1)
• Immaturity
• Young, lack experience
• Related to frustration
Other forms of physical abuse
• Oral injuries
• Bite marks
• Soft tissue injuries to chest or abdomen
Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy
• Rare form of child abuse
• Psychiatric disorder
• Parent (usually mother) intentionally produces
symptoms in children to elicit sympathy from
• Symptoms go away when parent is not present
• 10% of children who are MSBP victims will be
• https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/articl
Consequences of physical abuse
• More aggression against other children
• Poor problem solving skills
• According to National Institute of Justice:
• Increases likelihood of future criminal behavior
as an adult by 28%
• Increases likelihood of arrest as a juvenile by
• Increases likelihood for violence crime by 30%
Transmission of domestic violence
Strauss (1990) – studied 1,146 families
• 18% intergenerational transmission of violence
Hunter & Kilstrom (1979)
• 18% intergenerational transmission of violence
Egeland & Jacobvitz (1984) – 160 single mothers
• 70% intergenerational transmission when
mothers were severely abused
Transmission of domestic violence
Cappell & Heiner (1990) – 888 families
• Women exposed to violence as children more likely to
discipline children with violence
• Suggests that children raised with violence learn or
inherit vulnerability in later relationships
• Suggests that children raised with violence learn how
to provoke violent responses, are more accepting of
violence, and are more likely to select aggressive
Transmission of domestic violence
• Letourneau, Fedick, & Willms (2007)
• Found something different from Cappell and
• Longitudinal study following children from 24-48
months of age through 12 years of age
• Studied 208 children exposed to IPV and 3,037
who were not
• Conclusion: Mothers experiencing IPV were
actually more protective of their children than
their non-victim counterparts.
Long-term psychological impact of
physical abuse
• Effect on victims – poor self-esteem,
self-blame and shame can lead to
relationship problems later in life
What about spanking?
• Sanctioned violence
• Related to aggression in childhood
and later in life
• Spanking creates fear of children
• What does it teach children?
What about spanking?
Most parents have spanked
ï‚— Children usually between 2 and 5
ï‚— Most are angry when they spank
ï‚— Most regret spanking but do it because:
They think it is useful
They grew up with it
They have an authoritarian parenting style
Of child’s bad behavior
What about spanking?
Parents who spank are more commonly:
Religious conservatives
Lower to middle class
Parents of children with behavior problems
What about spanking?
Children who are spanked are more
â—¦ Preschoolers
â—¦ Boys
â—¦ Non-compliant, difficult
How discipline changes
Impact of spanking
Diana Baumrind – leading
parenting expert
Mild spanking
â—¦ Increased behavioral difficulties over time
â—¦ BUT, if parent is warm and supportive, spanking
does not lead to behavioral problems
Moderate to severe spanking
â—¦ Increased behavioral difficulties
â—¦ Long term effects
Effects of spanking
More recent evidence
Taylor, Manganello, Lee, & Rice (2010)
“…even mild forms of corporal
punishment, such as spanking, increase
risk for increased child aggressive
“Physical punishment is perhaps the most
effective means of teaching violence, and
eliminating it would be an important step in
violence prevention.” (Richard Gelles,
Wallace (2008, p.21)
Video: Violence – A Family
Robbyn Peters Bennett :
• Is spanking “sanctioned violence” against
• Is it okay to spank your children?
• Why or why not? Justify your response.
• Note: Saying “I was spanked and I
turned out okay” is not sufficient

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