Effective Interventions for Child Abuse and Neglect: An Evidence-Based Approach to Planning and Evaluating Interventions

Effective Interventions for Child Abuse and Neglect: An Evidence-Based Approach to Planning and Evaluating Interventions

Effective Interventions for Child Abuse and Neglect: An Evidence-Based Approach to Planning and Evaluating Interventions

Effective Interventions for Child Abuse and Neglect: An Evidence-Based Approach to Planning and Evaluating Interventions

Synopsis

Why are some children abused or neglected? What can be done to protect and help them?

A key element of informed decision making is knowing what sort of problems are amenable to what sort of intervention, in what circumstances, and with what degree of certainty. Effective Interventions for Child Abuse and Neglect provides a thorough and detailed review of the available research, and makes suggestions as to how this evidence can be incorporated into professional child protection work.

Geraldine Macdonald first considers the range of evaluative tools available, with illustrations from existing research studies and reviews, and appraises their respective merits and limitations. She then describes the interplay of a range of causal factors in abuse and neglect, and considers different types of maltreatment and their potential consequences. Evidence for effective preventative and therapeutic measures are considered next, followed by a final section on accurate assessment and the use of formal tools in risk management.

Excerpt

Child protection is a complex social endeavour. It is one of the few areas where the state seeks to intervene in an otherwise private arena, that of family life, and where a range of professional groups and organisations, as well as the general public, are expected to play a part. It is a problematic endeavour too. Child physical abuse, child neglect, psychological maltreatment and child sexual abuse are all socially constructed in ways which make definition, discussion and decision-making technically challenging (see Hendrick 1997). Whilst few would be concerned about parents sometimes shouting at their children, and few would disagree that beating a child with a stick or raping a nine year old were unacceptable, there is often less consensus between the shoulders of the curve as to what comprises child maltreatment or 'child abuse'. Differences in perception exist across class, across culture, and between genders and generations.

These differences are carried into the professional role and are often exacerbated, rather than minimised, by professional affiliation, as the history of child abuse inquiries and research studies only too graphically testifies (see Giovanonni and Beccera 1979). Failures in child protection regularly cost the lives of some fifty children a year and blight many more. Investigations which subsequently exonerate those under scrutiny can nonetheless cause great pain to parents and children alike, with devastating effects for some families. A concern to protect children from serious injury or death, coupled with a concern not to intervene unless necessary has resulted in a primary focus of resources and endeavour on those families where the risks appear serious and immediate. Preventive work easily becomes a poor relation in child care and protection services, particularly when resources are limited, even though this might prove an effective and efficient strategy in the longer term. This is the socio-political context in which the development of an evidence-based approach to practice must be considered.

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