Carolina Consortium on Human Development

Fall 2018

TITLE:  A Developmental Science Approach to Understanding and Addressing Child Maltreatment

Committee Members: Andrea Hussong (Chair), Karen Appleyard Carmody, Ken Dodge, Mary Haskett, Helen Milojevich (CCHD Postdoctoral Fellow), Cathi Propper, Meghan Shanahan, Margaret Sheridan, Rebeccah Sokol (CCHD Predoctoral Fellow)

Consortium Theme:  Although data are not consistent, the federally-funded National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System suggests recent increases in child maltreatment in the United States. From 2012 to 2016, the estimated number of children who received a child protective services (or alternative) investigation response increased 9.5% to 3,472,000. Estimated rates of victimization (or substantiated cases)  fluctuated but show an overall increase of 3% in the same period, with 676,000 estimated victims (including 1,750 child deaths) in 2016. Despite decades of research, intervention and policy efforts to address child maltreatment, the problem at best persists and at worst continues to grow.  This seminar seeks to address pernicious challenges in this field that forestall progress in diminishing this problem. The pernicious challenges inherent in understanding and, in turn, addressing the problem of child maltreatment rest at familiar intersections in Developmental Science: persons and context, biology and ecology, family and societal systems. Addressing these challenges through an inherently transdisciplinary framework, this seminar series applies a Developmental Science lens to draw together experts from the fields of public health and public policy, clinical psychology and social work, and developmental psychology and neuroscience. The intended goal is to generate a more holistic understanding of what portends, sustains, prevents, and redresses problems associated with child maltreatment both within a single generation and across successive generations. To promote productive cross-disciplinary engagement, we provide the following questions to guide speakers and seminar participants to work at salient intersections (across levels of analysis and disciplinary perspectives) that are likely to advance research, policy, prevention, and treatment surrounding maltreatment.

Guiding Questions:

  1. What are the intersecting neurobiological, psychological, family systems/relationship, socioeconomic, sociocultural, community, or policy factors that underlie maltreatment itself as well as intergenerational patterns of child maltreatment more broadly?
  2. What are key mechanisms that influence how children, adolescents, families, and the institutions that serve them respond to child maltreatment, both in terms of risk and resilience? For the child/adolescent and family, what is the developmental patterning of those influences (in terms of plasticity, sensitive periods, dynamic variation, etc.)?
  3. How can multiple stakeholders (researchers, practitioners, child welfare professionals, school personnel, families, advocates, and policy makers) best work together to address the prevention of maltreatment and to redress the negative sequelae of maltreatment? For example, what are examples of research-practice and research-policy collaborations that have been successful?
  4. What policy, prevention and treatment approaches show actual or potential for population impact or community change in address child maltreatment?
  5. What are promising new directions for addressing this problem that advance the research, prevention, treatment, and policy that occur at the disciplinary intersections within Developmental Science?