Directions for Preventive Intervention
For clinicians working with child-abusive families, treatment of the client family is often the immediate, pressing, and understandable priority. However, since annual child abuse incidence estimates range from a conservative 60,000 cases (Education Commission of the States, 1973) upward to one-half million cases (Helfer & Kempe, 1976; Light, 1973), it is evident that prevention also merits much closer attention. Even with recent improvements in child abuse reporting, treatment, and follow-up, many maltreating families are never officially identified as abusive and will never receive treatment; even if it were somehow possible to identify all abusive families, the resources of child welfare agencies and mental health facilities would be hard pressed to treat all of them comprehensively. Just as primary prevention and early intervention are the goals of many mental health and social welfare programs (Geismar, 1969; Klein & Goldston, 1977; Rapoport, 1961), successful efforts to reduce the incidence of child-directed violence will prove to be more humane and, presumably, more effective than treating the relatively small proportion of cases that presently come to professionals’ attention.
KeywordsChild Abuse Family Violence Mental Health Facility Child Welfare Agency Social Welfare Program
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