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Defining Child Maltreatment Essay Research Paper Portwood

Defining Child Maltreatment Essay, Research Paper Portwood, S. ?The Impact of Individuals? Characteristics and Experiences on Their Definitions Of Child Maltreatment.? Child Abuse & Neglect Vol. 22, No. 5 (1998): 437-452.

Defining Child Maltreatment Essay, Research Paper

Portwood, S. ?The Impact of Individuals? Characteristics and Experiences on Their Definitions

Of Child Maltreatment.? Child Abuse & Neglect Vol. 22, No. 5 (1998): 437-452.

This article focused on a study done by Portwood to try and identify and determine what constitutes child abuse and or neglect. The current state of definitions presents a dilemma not only to researchers attempting to elucidate the dynamics of child maltreatment, but also to a variety of professionals involved in the identification, assessment, treatment, and prosecution of cases of abuse and neglect. The goal of the study was to assist researchers and law-and policy makers in clarifying the roles of such personal characteristics and experiences in individuals? decision-making in regards to child maltreatment. Attention was paid in particular to the impact of parenting experience and personal experiences with actual and potential abuse as a professional, perpetrator, and or victim. Two hypotheses were tested: (1) non parents are more likely than parents to define an act as maltreatment; and (2) an increase in parenting experience is related to a reduced likelihood of rating acts as abuse or neglect.

There were 323 participants used for the study (110 males and 213 females.) Participants represented six groups with diverse relationships and experience with children; mental health professionals, legal professionals, medical professionals, preschool and elementary school teachers, parents and adult non-parents. Approximately half of the participants (170) had children of their own or had had children under age 18 live in their home. Participants had offspring ranging in age from less than 1 year to 38 years of age. The sample reflected a wide range of educational and religious backgrounds. Of particular interest was half of the participants (50.9%, #163) reported that they had come into contact with a case or suspected case of child maltreatment in the course of their employment, (13.8%, #44) participants reported they had been a victim of child maltreatment, (6.9 %, #22) stated they were unsure whether or not they had been victimized, (2.5%, #8) stated that they had committed an act of child maltreatment, (4.4%, #14) responded that they were unsure whether or not they had committed such an act.

To obtain data from adult parents and non-parents an anonymous written questionnaire, designed to be completed in 10 to 15 minutes, was administered by course instructors during art, literature, English and composition classes as a community college in a large southwestern city.

The questionnaire was used to elicit respondents? attitudes toward various behaviors through direct questioning and the presentation of vignettes, which have been the two most popular methods of assessing individuals? conceptualization of child maltreatment in the research literature. The questionnaire contained four sections. The first section asked for basic demographic information, including age, sex, marital status, education level, occupation?etc.

Section two focused on respondents? own parenting experiences, as well as their experiences as victims and/or perpetrators of child maltreatment. Section three asked respondents to rate the importance of 21 factors to a determination of whether an act constitutes abuse and/or neglect on a 7-point scale from 1= ?not at all important? to 7 = ?one of the most important factors.? In section four participants were asked to rate each of a series of 35 or 40 vignettes on a 7-point scale from 1= ?definitely is not abuse or neglect? to 7= ?definitely is abuse or neglect.?

The findings showed that the data gathered did not full support the first hypothesis, indicating instead, that while parent status does not affect individuals? ratings of most acts, parents are actually more likely to rate certain behavior as abusive. The second hypothesis was retained in part and rejected in part. While there is some indication that an increase in parenting experience is related to a reduced likelihood of rating acts as ?neglect,? an increase in parenting experience may actually increase individuals? views of the seriousness of sexual abuse.

Bibliography

Portwood, S. ?The Impact of Individuals? Characteristics and Experiences on Their Definitions

Of Child Maltreatment.? Child Abuse & Neglect Vol. 22, No. 5 (1998): 437-452.

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