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Child Abuse Negl. 2003 Feb;27(2):215-29.

Trends in child maltreatment literature.

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Department of Psychology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, USA.



To identify possible gaps in the child maltreatment literature the present study examined the development of the child maltreatment literature over a 22-year period, including temporal trends for child maltreatment types, the characteristics of the research participants, and sources of participant recruitment.


Child maltreatment articles (N=2090) published from 1977 to 1998 (inclusive) in six specialty journals were coded on type of article, type of child maltreatment, gender and parental status of participants, abuse role of participants, and recruitment source of participants.


Across the period studied the annual percentage of quantitative articles (articles with inferential statistics) increased, whereas the annual percentage of theoretical articles decreased. The annual percentage of articles examining child physical abuse (CPA) decreased, whereas the annual percentage of articles examining child sexual abuse (CSA) increased. The percentages of articles examining child neglect (CN) or child emotional abuse (CEA) remained consistently low. Distinguishing child maltreatment types in research articles increased. Males were underrepresented in CPA perpetration and CPA adult victimization articles, but adequately represented in CSA perpetration and CPA child victimization articles. Females were adequately represented in CPA perpetration and CSA child and adult victimization articles. Recruitment from universities and outpatient mental health facilities increased; recruitment from medical settings decreased.


CN and CEA literatures need to be developed first by theoretical, then by quantitative works. In addition, the publication of more research on male subjects for CPA perpetration and adult CPA victimization is needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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