Etiology of Child Maltreatment: A Developmental–Ecological Analysis

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Abstract

This article applies a Developmental–Ecological perspective to the question of the etiology of physical child abuse and neglect by organizing the paper around a variety of “contexts of maltreatment.” The roles of parent and child characteristics and processes are considered (“developmental context”), including an examination of intergenerational transmission. The “immediate interactional context” of maltreatment, which focuses on the parenting and parent–child interactional processes associated with abuse and neglect, is analyzed. Finally, the “broader context” is discussed with 3 specific subsections dealing with the community, cultural, and evolutionary contexts of child maltreatment. Implications for intervention are considered and future research directions are outlined.

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