Theoretical Overview of Understanding Child Maltreatment
Since the growing awareness of child maltreatment in the 1960s, professional literature has amassed and attempted to give us a clearer understanding of the etiology of child maltreatment. Child maltreatment encompasses many variations in its causes, outcomes, and treatment. Families and children experiencing the different forms of maltreatment are not similar and need to be assessed and treated in a manner that will maximize their strengths and at the same time assure the safety and well-being of the child. This chapter overviews the theories that have been used to explain child maltreatment and presents a comprehensive theoretical approach, one that takes into account ecological risk factors, at varying systemic levels, and the transactions within each developmental stage of the child. The two major theoretical frameworks that are the foundation for understanding and treating child maltreatment are the ecological and the developmental perspectives.
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