Research in Child Abuse and Neglect

Current Status and an Agenda for the Future
  • Robert T. Ammerman
  • Michel Hersen


It is common to decry the relative paucity of empirical research in newly emerging fields, and the area of child maltreatment is no exception. Yet, during the past decade, we have seen an explosion of investigative activity that has thrust research in child abuse and neglect to higher levels of understanding and sophistication. Indeed, the growth in knowledge has been so extensive that recent endeavors have brought the field to something of a watershed. Therefore, it is timely to assess the gains that have been achieved and review the changes in investigative practices and theoretical formulations that have thus far characterized the field. From a research perspective, a transition has occurred from unidimensional design approaches to multivariate strategies (e.g., Gaines, Sandgrund, Green, & Power, 1978) that more adequately reflect the complex nature of child maltreatment. Similarly, current theoretical views reject single-factor explanations of maltreatment in favor of more intricate models describing the reciprocal interplay between causative variables in the development and maintenance of abuse and neglect (e.g., Starr, 1988; Wolfe, 1987). Although this shift in focus of attention from simplistic conceptualizations to complicated multicomponent models began in the late 1970s (Belsky, 1980) it is now almost universally acknowledged (Starr, 1988).


Child Abuse Family Violence Psychological Maltreatment Parental Psychopathology Child Victim 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert T. Ammerman
    • 1
  • Michel Hersen
    • 2
  1. 1.Western Pennsylvania School for Blind ChildrenPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and ClinicUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburghUSA

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