Methodological Issues in Child Maltreatment Research
In 1993, the National Research Council (Panel on Research on Child Abuse and Neglect) published the findings and recommendations of a distinguished group of established researchers in child maltreatment. The purpose of this document was to summarize and integrate extant research findings, and to establish goals and suggestions for future scientific study of the abuse and neglect of children. Among other things, the Panel lamented the significant methodological shortcomings that characterized the empirical literature up to that point: “The research literature in the field of child maltreatment is immense... Despite this quantity of literature, researchers generally agree that the quality of research on child maltreatment is relatively weak in comparison to health and social science research studies in areas such as family systems and child development” (p. 45). Indeed, they pointed out that research on child abuse and neglect was largely “undervalued,” and that limited resources allocated to empirical investigations, coupled with the comparatively nascent development both theoretically and methodologically in the child maltreatment field, conspired to limit both the quantity and quality of empirical work in this area. Despite this caveat, a considerable body of work has accrued in the past 35 years, and we now know more about the causes, consequences, and treatment of child abuse and neglect than we ever have before. Considerable work awaits researchers in this area, however, offering both substantial challenges and potential rewards in terms of understanding and preventing maltreatment of children.
KeywordsChild Maltreatment Child Physical Abuse Behavioral Parent Training Data Analytic Strategy Intervention Outcome Research
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