Thesis

Current problems of child abuse and neglect

1979 is the Year of the Child. This thesis concerns itself with child abuse and neglect, and those persons and/or agencies that not only contribute to the problem, but also those that are attempting to deal with and eliminate the problem. A working definition of child abuse and neglect is offered, as well as descriptions of the various forms of child abuse and neglect, specifically, physical, nutritional, psychological, verbal and sexual. In examining the possible causes of child abuse and neglect, the abusive parents and their motivations for becoming abusive parents are considered in terms of both psychological and environmental etiological factors. The sources used by the U.C.L.A. Child Trauma Clinic to determine abusive behavior in parents, particularly mothers, include the Parent Attitude Research Instrument (PARI) and the Minnesota Multi-phasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). While the test results are not conclusive in and of themselves, the findings do point toward a possible method for earlier intervention. Intervention by various community agencies such as social service agencies, health services, the juvenile court system, mental health agencies and law enforcement agencies is presented as an effective tool, once abuse has been recognized. However, it is concluded that a method for prevention must be sought and implemented. A possible proposal for prevention is offered to administrators of child abuse and neglect programs. Preventive measures, such as parent-testing to determine the possible presence of abusive tendencies in couples, and parent-licensing, to prevent parents who have abusive tendencies from having children, are offered. The drawbacks of such a severe plan for prevention are recognized and considered. A final discussion is on sexual abuse, based on conclusions drawn from personal observation within a clinic setting.

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