Child Maltreatment

Joanne Martin

in Public Health

ISBN: 9780199756797
Published online February 2011 | | DOI:
Child Maltreatment


Child maltreatment encompasses all forms of child abuse and neglect. Child maltreatment has long-term devastating consequences, and it is preventable. Children die of abuse and neglect at a rate of 2.33 per 100,000 children. Shaken baby syndrome results in blindness, motor and cognitive impairment, and death. Chronic abuse and neglect during infancy and young childhood interferes with brain formation and function Child maltreatment increases the risk of chronic diseases during adulthood. Child maltreatment is a form of violence. Public health starts with the assumption that violent behavior and related adverse consequences can be prevented. The public health approach moves from problem to solution by (1) systematically gathering data on what is known about the scope and consequences of child maltreatment; (2) determining the causes of child maltreatment and what increases and decreases risk factors for abusive and neglectful behavior; (3) discovering ways to prevent child maltreatment by designing, implementing, and evaluating interventions; and (4) disseminating promising and proven interventions to prevent child maltreatment in diverse communities. Violence is the intentional use of force or power and includes threats, intimidation, and neglect. The World Health Organization categorizes violence as self-directed, interpersonal, and collective. Interpersonal violence includes community violence and family violence. Community violence includes youth violence, gangs, sexual violence, and violence in settings such as schools and workplaces. Family violence includes child abuse, intimate partner violence, and elder abuse. Violence is complex and best understood within an ecological framework. First proposed by Urie Bronfenbrenner, the ecological model illuminates the interactions among individual characteristics, social relationships, community context, and societal factors. Public health interventions include primary prevention (before child maltreatment occurs), secondary prevention (immediate response to child maltreatment), and tertiary prevention (reducing long-term consequences resulting from child maltreatment). Approaches to prevent child maltreatment include interventions that are universal, selected, and indicated. Universal interventions are designed for the general public regardless of level of risk. Selected interventions are directed toward persons who are at increased risk of abusing or neglecting children. Indicated interventions are for persons who already have experienced child maltreatment.

Article.  6790 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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