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Child Maltreatment

  • By: Bette L. Bottoms, LaTonya Harris, Else-Marie Augusti, Gail S. Goodman, Barbara A. Oudekerk & Tisha R. A. Wiley
  • In: Encyclopedia of Psychology and Law
  • Edited by: Brian L. Cutler
  • Subject:Psychology of Law

Child maltreatment extends across class, culture, ethnicity, and nationality. In the United States alone, upward of 3 million cases of child abuse are reported annually, and more than 1,000 children die each year as a result of abuse. However, these numbers are likely underestimates of the scope of the problem because, as most experts agree, child maltreatment is underreported. The term child maltreatment itself is broad, encompassing neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Scientific and clinical evidence indicates that child maltreatment detrimentally affects children's cognitive, social, and emotional development. Psychological models specifying the mechanisms by which child maltreatment imparts its adverse effects include attachment theory (e.g., child maltreatment distorts children's internal working models of self and others) and psychophysiological theories (e.g., chronic elevation ...

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