The Scope, Nature, and Causes of Child Abuse and Neglect

Sarah A. Font, Kathryn Maguire-Jack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Child maltreatment is a complex problem affecting millions of children in the United States every year. This article examines existing knowledge on the scope, nature, and causes of child abuse and neglect. First, we review the discordant definitions and conceptualizations of child maltreatment and consider the implications of broad and narrow definitions for the size and scope of the child welfare system and for child safety. Second, we provide an assessment of the quality and comprehensiveness of existing data for understanding the incidence rates and trends in child abuse and neglect. Third, we review theory and evidence on the causes of child maltreatment, with particular attention to whether and how social policy can reduce its prevalence. Last, we provide recommendations for improving the use of data and scientific evidence in child welfare policy and systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-49
Number of pages24
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'The Scope, Nature, and Causes of Child Abuse and Neglect'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this