A Comparison of Child Fatalities by Physical Abuse Versus Neglect: Child, Family, Service, and Worker Characteristics

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Abstract

In the field of child welfare, attention has been given to risk factors for child maltreatment fatalities with little attention to the difference between children who die from abuse versus neglect. As part of a larger study, child welfare workers (n = 104) from 14 different states responded to an anonymous online survey that described the child, family, and case characteristics before death and worker characteristics/experiences before and after death. Results supported that prior to death, neglectful families presented with less risk than abusive families, in the areas of parent-child attachment, child behavior problems, and changes in household composition while reporting that they received more services. With regard to child welfare practice, workers did not report any differences in how they handled cases before death nor did they report differences in their posttraumatic stress symptoms at the time of the survey. These findings can be used as a springboard for future research that focuses on fatal maltreatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-273
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Social Service Research
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2014

Keywords

  • Child maltreatment fatality
  • fatal abuse
  • fatal neglect

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