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Updated on 26 Oct 2016. The previous version of this content can be found here.
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date: 19 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

The true extent of child abuse and neglect is unknown but reports to state agencies indicate over 3 million reports concerning maltreatment of over 6 million children are made each year. Confirmed reports involved over 679,000 children in 2013. Yet, only 32% of the children known to be harmed by maltreatment in the community are investigated by child protective services. The perplexing dilemma in surveillance and service delivery is how to identify those who need help without spuriously including those who do not. This entry focuses on the definition of maltreatment and provides an overview of the history, etiology, and consequences of child abuse and neglect as well as the current trends and dilemmas in the field. To afford some perspective for the reader, some international data and information are provided.

Keywords: child abuse, child neglect, child maltreatment, definitions of maltreatment, etiology of child maltreatment, consequences of child maltreatment, evidence-based practice, disproportionality, cultural competence

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