A Developmental Psychopathology Perspective on Child Abuse and Neglect


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The purpose of this review is to conceptualize child abuse and neglect within a developmental psychopathology perspective. Toward this end, issues of definition and epidemiology, etiology, and sequelae are addressed. Research and theory on child abuse and neglect with relevance to a developmental perspective is reviewed. Considerable progress has been made in our understanding of the etiology and consequences of child abuse and neglect. Less progress has been made in utilizing this knowledge to inform treatment efforts. Incorporation of a developmental psychopathology perspective into efforts to understand and ameliorate the adverse effects of child abuse and neglect holds considerable promise for advancing research and intervention in the area of child maltreatment. The importance of providing comprehensive and coordinated services that incorporate knowledge of how maltreated youngsters negotiate stage-salient issues of development is stressed. The provision of child-focused treatment, parent-based models of intervention, and ecologically driven approaches to prevention all can benefit from an understanding of the adverse effects that maltreatment exerts on the process of development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-565
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
AcceptedJune 9, 1994. From the Mt. Hope Family Center, University ofRochester, NY. We acknowledge the William T. Grant Foundation, the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, the Spencer Foundation, and the Spunk Fund, Inc., for their generous support of our work on this project. We also thank Jeanne Ledtke for her assistance with manuscript preparation. Reprint requests to Dr. Cicchetti or Dr. Totb, Mt. Hope Family Center, University ofRochester, 187 Edinburgh Street, Rochester, NY 14608. 0890-8567/95/3405-0541$03.0010©1995 by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.


  • child abuse and neglect
  • child maltreatment
  • developmental psychopathology


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