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Child Physical Abuse and Neglect


Child abuse exists everywhere in the world, in all cultures and ethnic groups, resulting in huge economic and personal costs. Legal and health professionals have studied the causes and treatment methods to try to prevent and mitigate the harm done by abuse, especially from parents or other caregivers. This chapter provides the legal issues and definitions in physical abuse and neglect, maltreatment, and psychological abuse looking at the recent history and current laws. Information is given about the child protection system in the USA and other countries. Psychological theories of why parents abuse their children are discussed and the psychological harm such abuse has on their children using a developmental perspective and emphasizing the learned behavior from one generation to the next. Basic and special competencies needed by health professionals to work in this area are also described including psychological assessment of children and abusers.