Crystal Myers

Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Laura Desportes

Degree Award Date

Spring 2006


Child Abuse, Current Issues, Policy, Prevention, Public Perception


Child Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Psychology | Social Welfare | Social Work


The cost and effects of child abuse are staggering. Prevent Child Abuse America states that a "conservative estimate of direct and indirect costs of child maltreatment" for our nation total "$94,076,882,529.00 per year." (Fromm, 2001) While this number related to meeting the immediate and future needs of victims of child abuse can be tabulated and reported, there are other far more significant and substantial costs that cannot be tallied. The model currently supported by federal child protective services (CPS) and utilized by nationwide agencies supports keeping the family unit intact even when instances of abuse or neglect derive from within. This review of current literature seeks to outline federally mandated approaches taken by CPS, examine child development theories, explore and describe pertinent cultural and societal issues that have impact, present evidence of the effects of trauma on the neurological, physiological, emotional, and social skills of the abused and traumatized child, present some of the lingering issues for adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse, describe some aspects of public perception of abuse and personal impact on public policy, movement from intervention toward research and development of prevention strategies, (National Institute of Health (NIH), Blueprint for Change ... , 2001, p. 13) education and empowerment to promote "child friendly communities" as supported by the 1990 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, (Arnold & Cloke, 1998, p. 310-311) support redefining child abuse, change negative attitudes toward children, and present outcomes of early intervention strategies already in place.

Current research data suggests that early and permanent intervention is necessary to ameliorate the physical, emotional, social, and psychological damage that is inflicted daily on abused and traumatized children. (Perry et al., 1995, p. 16) Follow up studies of adult survivor's show that this population suffers from a broad, pervasive, and persistent range of mental illness, and that many times, the abused will likely propagate the cycle of abuse, either by becoming an abuser, or by putting themselves and their children at risk by subjecting themselves to abusive relationships.

Data reviewed suggest that the current model utilized by child care protective agencies is inadequate and intervention strategies do not create environments conducive to the overall health and full range of holistic development in children.