Child Maltreatment and Intra-Familial

Child Maltreatment and Intra-Familial

Child Maltreatment and Intra-Familial Violence

Clinical Social Work with Urban Children Youth & Families

(SOWK 630)

Child Maltreatment

Broad definition that encompasses a wide range of parental acts or behaviors that place children at risk of serious or physical or emotional harm


It is defined by law in each state


Labels used in state statutes vary




Categories of Abuse



Physical Abuse

Sexual Abuse

Emotional Abuse


Definition of Neglect

The failure of a parent, guardian, or other caregiver to provide for a child’s basic needs. This can also include failure to protect them from a known risk of harm or danger.

Examples of Neglect


Child is frequently absent from school



Begs or steals food or money



Lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations, glasses, etc.



Consistently dirty and has severe body odor



Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather



Abuses alcohol or drugs



States that there is no one at home to provide care



Physical Abuse

Examples of Physical Abuse

Visible unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes

Has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school

Seems frightened of the parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home

Shrinks at the approach of adults

Reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver

Definition of Physical Abuse

The non-accidental physical injury of a child

Sexual Abuse

Definition of Sexual Abuse

Anything done with a child for the sexual gratification of an adult or older child

Examples of Sexual Abuse


Has difficulty walking or sitting



Suddenly refuses to change for gym or to participate in physical activities



Reports nightmares or bedwetting



Experiences a sudden change in appetite



Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior



Becomes pregnant or contracts a sexually transmitted disease



Runs away



Emotional Abuse

Definition of Emotional Abuse

A pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth

Examples of Emotional Abuse

Shows extremes in behavior

Inappropriately adult or infantile

Is delayed in physical or emotional development

Has attempted suicide

Reports a lack of attachment to the parent


Protective Factors


Protective factors are conditions or attributes of individuals, families, communities, or the larger society that, when present, promote wellbeing and reduce the risk for negative outcomes

Parental Resilience

Social Connections

Knowledge of Child Development

Concrete Support In Times of Need

Social and Emotional Competence of the Child

Intra-Family Violence




Intra-family violence: a pattern of abusive behaviors by one family member against another.

Domestic and family violence occurs when someone tries to control their partner or other family members in ways that intimidate or oppress them.

Controlling behaviors can include threats, humiliation (‘put downs’), emotional abuse, physical assault, sexual abuse, financial exploitation and social isolations, such as not allowing contact with family or friends

Family violence means conduct, whether actual or threatened, by a person towards, or towards the property of, a member of the person’s family that causes that or any other member of the person’s family to fear for, or to be apprehensive about, his or her personal well being or safety.


Family Violence Information


Children may be exposed to domestic violence both directly (when they witness violence or are physically harmed, either accidentally or on purpose, as a result of the violence) and indirectly (when they overhear abusive communication between partners, experience the aftermath of an incident, or hear about it through other avenues of communication).

An alarming number of children are maltreated or exposed to domestic violence in the United States each year.

Approximately four million referrals for alleged maltreatment are made to child protective agencies each year.

Researchers have estimated that between 3.3 million and 10 million children are exposed to adult domestic violence each year.

In an estimated 30 to 60 percent of families in which either child maltreatment or exposure to adult domestic violence is occurring, the other form of violence also is being perpetrated.


Protective Factors for Children Exposed to Violence


Individual Level



Self-regulation skills



Problem-solving skills



Relationship Level



Parenting competencies



Parent or caregiver well-being



Community Level


Positive school environment



Using Protective Factors for Children Exposed to Family Violence (Individual Level)

Self-regulation skills: emotional awareness, anger management, stress management, and cognitive coping skills.

For children exposed to domestic violence, self-regulation skills are related to resiliency; having supportive friends; reductions in internalizing problems; better cognitive functioning; and decreases in posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and overall behavior problems.

Problem-solving skills: adaptive functioning and the ability to solve problems were also found to be important protective factors for many children who are exposed to family violence and are primarily related to improved mental health.



Using Protective Factors for Children Exposed to Family Violence (Relationship Level)

Parenting competencies: Defined as parental acceptance or responsiveness, maternal warmth, strong parent-child bonds, and emotional support, there is strong evidence linking parenting competencies to positive outcomes for children exposed to domestic violence.

These outcomes include increases in self-esteem, lower risk of antisocial behavior, and a lower likelihood of running away and of teen pregnancy.

Parent or caregiver well-being: Children whose parents demonstrate positive psychological functioning (e.g., lower rates of depression and other mental health problems) have shown higher levels of resilient behavior and better mental health outcomes than other young people who are exposed to domestic violence.


Using Protective Factors for Children Exposed to Family Violence (Community Level)




Positive school environment: School-based interventions for youth exposed to domestic violence have found that these programs can help to reduce traumatic stress disorder symptoms, depression, psychosocial dysfunction, and physical dating violence.

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Child Maltreatment

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