Child Abuse and Neglect: An Introduction

  • Sibnath Deb
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Well-Being and Quality of Life Research book series (BRIEFSWELLBEING)


This chapter provides an overview of the global, national, and local scenario of child abuse and neglect with special reference to definitions, classifications, risk factors, signs, and symptoms visible among abused children and the psychological theories and models on child abuse and neglect. Referring to international and national evidence with respect to burden of child abuse and neglect, the chapter critically examines the seriousness of the problem so that policymakers, law enforcement agencies, especially child welfare committee members, school administrators, and NGO personnel and other stakeholders get the real perspective of the issue and take appropriate measures at their level for the safety of children across society. Consequences of child abuse and neglect and the costs involved are discussed at length referring to the latest available evidences. Based on an empirical investigation in Puducherry, India, on child abuse and neglect to the researcher attempts to provide a realistic picture about the issue and provide a clear idea about the objectives of the study and the methodology adopted for the same.


Child abuse Neglect Risk factors Burden Consequences Puducherry India 


  1. Abolghasemi, A., & Varaniyab, S. T. (2010). Resilience and perceived stress: Predictors of life satisfaction in the students of success and failure. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 5, 748–752.
  2. BBC. (2006, February 17). Disappointed and disheartened. BBC News. Retrieved February 2, 2012.Google Scholar
  3. Belsky, J. (1993). Etiology of child maltreatment: A developmental and ecological analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 114(3), 413. Scholar
  4. Berry, M., Charlson, R., & Dawson, K. (2003). Promising practices in understanding and treating child neglect. Child and Family Social Work, 8(1), 13–24. Scholar
  5. Black, R. E., Cousens, S., Johnson, H. L., Lawn, J. E., Rudan, I., Bassani, D. G., et al. (2010). Global, regional, and national causes of child mortality in 2008: A systematic analysis. The Lancet, 375(9730), 1969–1987. Scholar
  6. Bross, D. C., Miyoshi, T. J., Miyoshi, P. K., Krugman, R. D., Kempe Children’s Ctr, Dept of Pediatrics, AHEC Program, Office of Academic Affairs, & United States of America. (2002). World perspectives on child abuse: The fifth international resource book. Denver, CO: The International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) and the Kempe Children’s Center, University of Colorado School of Medicine.Google Scholar
  7. Buckle, S. K., Lancaster, S., Powell, M. B., & Higgins, D. J. (2005). The relationship between child sexual abuse and academic achievement in a sample of adolescent psychiatric inpatients. Child Abuse and Neglect, 29(9), 1031–1047. Scholar
  8. Burns, E. E., Jackson, J. L., & Harding, H. G. (2010). Child maltreatment, emotion regulation, and posttraumatic stress: The impact of emotional abuse. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 19(8), 801–819.
  9. Butchart, A., Harvey, A., Mian, M., & Furniss, T. (2006). Preventing child maltreatment: A guide to taking action and generating evidence. Geneva: World Health Organization and International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.Google Scholar
  10. Cancian, M., Slack, K. S., & Yang, M. Y. (2010). The effect of family income on risk of child maltreatment. Madison, WI: Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin-Madison.Google Scholar
  11. Carroll, J. E., Gruenewald, T. L., Taylor, S. E., Janicki-Deverts, D., Matthews, K. A., & Seeman, T. E. (2013). Childhood abuse, parental warmth, and adult multisystem biological risk in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(42), 17149–17153. Scholar
  12. Carter, V., & Myers, M. R. (2007). Exploring the risks of substantiated physical neglect related to poverty and parental characteristics: A national sample. Children and Youth Services Review, 29(1), 110–121. Scholar
  13. Chen, J., Dunne, M. P., & Han, P. (2007). Prevention of child sexual abuse in China: Knowledge, attitudes, and communication practices of parents of elementary school children. Child Abuse and Neglect, 31(7), 747–755. Scholar
  14. Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013). What is child abuse and neglect? Recognizing the signs and symptoms. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.Google Scholar
  15. Christie-Smith, D., & Gartner, C. (2005, January 1). Understanding Munchausen syndrome by proxy. In Special Report: Highlights of the 2004 Institute on Psychiatric Services. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
  16. Cicchetti, D., & Lynch, M. (1993). Toward an ecological/transactional model of community violence and child maltreatment: Consequences for children’s development. Psychiatry-Washington-William Alanson White Psychiatric Foundation Then Washington School of Psychiatry, 56, 96–96.
  17. Criddle, L. (2010). Monsters in the closet: Munchausen syndrome by proxy (PDF). Critical Care Nurse (American Association of Critical-Care Nurses), 30(6), 46–55.
  18. Craig, C. D., & Sprang, G. (2007). Trauma exposure and child abuse potential: Investigating the cycle of violence. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77(2), 296. Scholar
  19. Crosson-Towner, C. (2005). Understanding child abuse and neglect. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  20. Deb, S. (2011). Structured questionnaire for teachers. Puducherry, India: Department of Applied Psychology, Pondicherry University.Google Scholar
  21. Deb, S., & Kumar, A. (2013). In-depth interview guide for teachers. Puducherry, India: Department of Applied Psychology, Pondicherry University.Google Scholar
  22. Deb, S., Kumar, A., Holden, W. G., & Rowe, L. S. (2016a). School corporal punishment, family tension, and student’s internalizing problems: Evidence from India. School Psychology International, 1–18.
  23. Deb, S., Ray, M., Bhattacharya, B., & Sun, J. (2016b). Violence against the adolescents of Kolkata: A study in relation to the socio-economic background and mental health. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 19, 4–13. Scholar
  24. Deb, S., & Mathews, B. (2012). Children’s rights in India: Parents’ and teachers’ attitudes, knowledge and perception. International Journal of Children’s Rights, 20, 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Deb, S., & Modak, S. (2007). Semi-structured questionnaire for children/students. Kolkata, India: Department of Applied Psychology, University of Calcutta.Google Scholar
  26. Deb, S., Mukherjee, A., & Mathews, B. (2011). Aggression in sexually abused trafficked girls and efficacy of intervention. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 26(4), 745–768.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Deb, S., Sun, J., Gireesan, A., Kumar, A., & Majumdar, A. (2015). Child rights as perceived by the community members in India. International Law Research, 5(1), 1.Google Scholar
  28. Elliott, K., & Urquiza, A. (2006). Ethnicity, culture and child maltreatment. Journal of Social Issues, 62, 787–809. Scholar
  29. Fang, X., Fry, D. A., Brown, D. S., Mercy, J. A., Dunne, M. P., Butchart, A. R., … Swales, D. M. (2015). The burden of child maltreatment in the East Asia and Pacific region. Child Abuse & Neglect, 42, 146–162.
  30. Fergusson, D., Boden, J., & Horwood, L. (2008). Exposure to childhood sexual and physical abuse and adjustment in early adulthood. Child Abuse and Neglect, 32, 607–619. Scholar
  31. Fox, K. A., Robson, S. L., Gover, A. R., & Kaukinen, K. (2005). The intergenerational transmission of violence: A gender-based analysis of social learning theory. In Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Toronto.Google Scholar
  32. Finkelhor, D. (1984). Child sexual abuse: New theory and research. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  33. Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R., Turner, H., & Hamby, S. L. (2005). The victimization of children and youth: A comprehensive, national survey. Child Maltreatment, 10(1), 5–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Fusco, R. A., & Fantuzzo, J. W. (2009). Domestic violence crimes and children: A population-based investigation of direct sensory exposure and the nature of involvement. Children and Youth Services Review, 31(2), 249–256.
  35. Gelles, R. J. (1974). The violent home: A study of physical aggression between husbands and wives. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  36. Goodkind, S., Ng, I., & Sarri, R. C. (2006). The impact of sexual abuse in the lives of young women involved or at risk of involvement with the juvenile justice system. Violence Against Women, 12(5), 456–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hart, S. N., Brassard, M. R., & Karlson, H. C. (1996). Psychological maltreatment. In J. Briere, L. Berliner, J. A. Bulkley, C. Jenny, & T. Reid (Eds.), The APSAC handbook on child maltreatment (pp. 72–89). London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  38. Hartman, C. R., & Burgess, A. W. (1989). Sexual abuse of children: Causes and consequences. In Child maltreatment: Theory and research on the causes and consequences of child abuse and neglect (pp. 95–128).Google Scholar
  39. Hecker, T., Hermenau, K., Isele, D., & Elbert, T. (2014). Corporal punishment and children’s externalizing problems: A cross-sectional study of Tanzanian primary school aged children. Child Abuse & Neglect, 38(5), 884–892.
  40. He, F., Guan, H., Kong, Y., Cao, R., & Peng, J. (2014). Some individual differences influencing the propensity to happiness: Insights from behavioral economics. Social Indicators Research, 119(2), 897–908.Google Scholar
  41. Hildyard, K. L., & Wolfe, D. A. (2002). Child neglect: Developmental issues and outcomes. Child Abuse and Neglect, 26(6), 679–695. Scholar
  42. Indian Express. (1999). Child prostitution is increasing in India. Indian Express, August 16, 1999, New Delhi.Google Scholar
  43. International Labour Organization. (2005). A global alliance against forced labour. Geneva, Switzerland: Author. Retrieved March 8, 2010, from
  44. Johnson, J. G., Cohen, P., Smailes, E. M., Skodol, A. E., Brown, J., & Oldham, J. M. (2001). Childhood verbal abuse and risk for personality disorders during adolescence and early adulthood. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 42(1), 16–23.
  45. Kempe, H. (1976). Child abuse and neglect: The family and the community. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  46. Kempe, C. H., Silverman, F. N., Steele, B. F., Droegemueller, W., & Silver, H. K. (1962). The battered child syndrome. Journal of the American Medical Association, 181, 107–112.Google Scholar
  47. Khawaja, S., Khoja, A. A., & Motwani, K. (2015). Abuse among school going adolescents in three major cities of Pakistan: Is it associated with school performances and mood disorders? The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association, 65(2), 142–147.Google Scholar
  48. Kumar, A. (2016). Burden of child abuse and neglect in Northern Kerala: Risk factors and impact (Unpublished doctoral thesis). Pondicherry University, Puducherry, India.Google Scholar
  49. Lasher, L. (2011). MBP definitions, maltreatment behaviors, and comments. Retrieved January 30, 2012.Google Scholar
  50. Lindell, C., & Svedin, C. G. (2001). Physical abuse in Sweden: A study of police reports between 1986 and 1996. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 36, 150–157. Scholar
  51. Mandal, J. (2010). Poverty reduction, the United Nations Development Program.
  52. Mathews, B. (2015). A theoretical framework for designing and evaluating strategies to identify cases of serious child abuse and neglect. In B. Mathews & D. C. Bross (Eds.), Mandatory reporting laws and the identification of severe child abuse and neglect (pp. 127–156). The Netherlands: Springer.Google Scholar
  53. McCabe, K. M., Lucchini, S. E., Hough, R. L., Yeh, M., & Hazen, A. (2005). The relation between violence exposure and conduct problems among adolescents: A prospective study. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 75(4), 575–584. Scholar
  54. Molnar, B. E., Buka, S. L., & Kessler, R. C. (2001). Child sexual abuse and subsequent psychopathology: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey. American Journal of Public Health, 91(5), 753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Milner, J. S. (2000). Social information processing and child physical abuse: Theory and research. Motivation and Child Maltreatment, 46, 39.Google Scholar
  56. National AIDS Control Organization (NACO). (2006). Strategy and implementation plan—National AIDS control program phase III [2007–2012].Google Scholar
  57. National AIDS Control Organization (NACO). (2011). Annual Report 2010–2011.…/Annual%20Reports/NACo%20Annual%20Report%202…y.
  58. Neill, J. T., & Dias, K. L. (2001). Adventure, education and resilience: The double-edged sword. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 1, 35–42. Scholar
  59. Newcomer, L. P., Barenbaum, M. E., & Bryant, R. B. (1994). Depression and anxiety youth scale: Examiners manual. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.Google Scholar
  60. Oates, R. K. (1996). The spectrum of child abuse. See Also Sagatun & Edwards, Supra Note 10.Google Scholar
  61. Pesonen, A. K., & Räikkönen, K. (2012). The lifespan consequences of early life stress. Physiology & Behavior, 106(5), 722–727.
  62. Physicians for Human Rights Child Rights Group. (2003). Child labour in India: A health and human rights perspective. The Lancet Extreme Medicine, 362, 32–33.Google Scholar
  63. Postmus, J. L., & Merritt, D. H. (2010). When child abuse overlaps with domestic violence: The factors that influence child protection workers’ beliefs. Children and Youth Services Review, 32(3), 309–317. Scholar
  64. Raj, A., Saggurti, N., Balaiah, D., & Silverman, J. (2009). Prevalence of child marriage and its effect on fertility and fertility-control outcomes of young women in India: A cross-sectional, observational study. Lancet, 373, 1883–1889. Scholar
  65. Registrar General, I. (2001, 2011, 2012). Census of India 2011: Provisional population totals-India data sheet. Office of the Registrar General Census Commissioner, India. Indian Census Bureau.Google Scholar
  66. Report of the Consultation on Child Abuse Prevention, March 29–31, 1999, WHO, Geneva (document WHO/HSC/PVI/99.1).Google Scholar
  67. Russell, D., Springer, K. W., & Greenfield, E. A. (2010). Witnessing domestic abuse in childhood as an independent risk factor for depressive symptoms in young adulthood. Child Abuse and Neglect, 34(6), 448–453. Scholar
  68. Sarason, I. G., Sarason, B. R., Shearin, E. N., & Pierce, G. R. (1987). A brief measure of social support: Practical and theoretical implications. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 4, 497–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Sen, S. (2005). Trafficking in women and children in India. New Delhi, India: National Human Rights Commission.Google Scholar
  70. Shahmohammadi, N. (2011). Students’ coping with Stress at high school level particularly at 11th & 12th grade. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 30, 395–401. Scholar
  71. Sharma, B. R., & Gupta, M. (2004). Child abuse in Chandigarh, India, and its implications. Journal of Clinical Forensic Medicine, 11(5), 248–256. Scholar
  72. Shen, L., Zhang, Y., Liang, W., & Zhang, Y. (2015). Investigation of child maltreatment: Survey among junior school pupils in Henan province of China. Asia Pacific Psychiatry, 7(1), 85–90. Scholar
  73. Shonkoff, J. P., Garner, A. S., Siegel, B. S., Dobbins, M. I., Earls, M. F., McGuinn, L., et al. (2012). The lifelong effects of early childhood adversity and toxic stress. Pediatrics, 129(1), e232–e246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Solomon, C. R., & Serres, F. (1999). Effects of parental verbal aggression on children’s self-esteem and school marks. Child Abuse & Neglect, 23(4), 339–351.
  75. Spataro, J., Mullen, P. E., Burgess, P. M., Wells, D. L., & Moss, S. A. (2004). Impact of child sexual abuse on mental health prospective study in males and females. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 184(5), 416–421. Scholar
  76. Spilsbury, J. C., Kahana, S., Drotar, D., Creeden, R., Flannery, D. J., & Friedman, S. (2008). Profiles of behavioral problems in children who witness domestic violence. Violence and Victims, 23(1), 3–17. Scholar
  77. Srikrishna, L. (2015, September 20). Two more skeletons exhumed at E. Malampatti. The Hindu, Chennai, p. 6.Google Scholar
  78. Stirling, J. (2007). American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Child Abuse Neglect. (2007, May). Beyond Munchausen syndrome by proxy: Identification and treatment of child abuse in a medical setting. PEDIATRICS, 119(5), 1026–1030.
  79. Straus, M. A., Hamby, S. L., Finkelhor, D., Moore, D. W., & Runyan, D. (1998). Identification of child maltreatment with the Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scales: Development and psychometric data for a national sample of American parents. Child Abuse and Neglect, 22(4), 249–270. Scholar
  80. Subba, S. H., Pant, S., Senthilkumaran, S., & Menezes, R. G. (2011). Battered child syndrome: Is India in dire straits? Egyptian Journal of Forensic Sciences, 1(3), 111–113.
  81. Sun, J. (2011). Happiness scale, developed and used by the researcher in his doctoral thesis titled ‘Educational stress among chinese adolescents: Measurements, risk factors and associations with mental health’. School of Public Health, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.Google Scholar
  82. The Hindu, Chennai. (2012a, April 29). DMK functionary held for child sacrifice, p. 1.Google Scholar
  83. The Hindu, Chennai. (2016, September 16). Teacher arrested on charges of raping minor, Friday, p. 3.Google Scholar
  84. The Hindu, Chennai. (2017a, March 11). Man held for sexually abusing child.Google Scholar
  85. The National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, Report for the year (1996, 1998, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016).Google Scholar
  86. The National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, Report for the year 2011. Retrieved from
  87. The National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, Report for the year 2012. Retrieved from
  88. The National Crime Records Bureau. (2011). Accidental deaths and suicides in India: 2009 (Delhi: Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, 2010) 180. Accessed September 28, 2011.
  89. The Times of India, Kolkata. (2017, July 22). Needle-pierced child dies, five days after surgery.Google Scholar
  90. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).Google Scholar
  91. The WHO Consultation on child abuse prevention (1999).Google Scholar
  92. Turton, J. (2008). Child abuse, gender and society. UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  93. UNICEF. (2005). Combating child trafficking. Retrieved March 8, 2010, from
  94. UNICEF. (2009). Progress for children: A report card on child protection. Innocenti report card number 8. New York, NY: UNICEF Division of Communication.Google Scholar
  95. UNICEF, India. (2008). Maternal, newborn and child survival. Accessed September 22, 2011.
  96. United Nations Children’s Fund. (2014). Hidden in plain sight: A statistical analysis of violence against children. New York: UNICEF.Google Scholar
  97. US Department of Health and Human Services. (2003). National Clearing House on Child Abuse and Neglect Information (2002). What is child maltreatment?.Google Scholar
  98. USAID. (2012). India’s HIV orphans and vulnerable children: Generating evidence for policy and practice, New Delhi.Google Scholar
  99. Vexler, S. (1977). Social learning theory and child abuse interventions.Google Scholar
  100. Walker, L. E. (1979). The battered woman. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  101. Ward, T., & Siegert, R. J. (2002). Toward a comprehensive theory of child sexual abuse: A theory knitting perspective. Psychology, Crime and Law, 8(4), 319–351. Scholar
  102. Wark, M. J., Kruczek, T., & Boley, A. (2003). Emotional neglect and family structure: Impact on student functioning. Child Abuse and Neglect, 27(9), 1033–1043. Scholar
  103. World Health Organization. (2002). World report on violence and health. Geneva: World Health Organization, Office of Publications.Google Scholar
  104. Zolotor, A. J., & Runyan, D. K. (2009). Social capital, family violence, and neglect. Pediatrics, 117(6), e1124–e1131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied PsychologyPondicherry UniversityPuducherryIndia

Personalised recommendations