Since the early 1960s, views on the primary causes of child abuse and neglect have changed considerably. The traditional assumption was that anyone who abused or neglected a child had to be abnormal or disturbed. Now, it is widely recognized that normal people under the pervasive influences of socio-economic disadvantage, cultural sanctioning of violence, and the break up of the nuclear family can be at high risk for child abuse or neglect. As these societal problems are not likely to abate in the near future, this book proposes that mental health professionals must play a larger role in helping parents and children establish healthier, violence-free relationships. Written to assist practitioners and students who regularly deal with at-risk families, it offers practical techniques and programmatic strategies for early intervention and treatment.
The premise of this volume is that child abuse prevention is best achieved by maximizing the child's developmental abilities and strengthening the parent-child relationship. Laying the groundwork for this early intervention approach, the book opens with a definition of physical and emotional abuse in both legal and clinical terms, a discussion on the goals and boundaries of parental discipline, and a demographic profile of abusive families. Following an examination of why abusive behavior occurs, the impact of physical and emotional abuse on children's development, and what that implies for primary and secondary prevention, the author presents an intervention model linked to critical transition periods for family members. The program's practical requirements are enumerated and chapters describe how to: introduce families to the clinic, communicate concerns, delineate parental responsibilities, and establish peer group support and social services.
Assessment procedures are detailed with an emphasis on the importance of identifying parental expectations so that treatment can be tailored to fit the needs of the family. Chapters on intervention describe methods for promoting parental sensitivity and responsiveness to child behavior and improving parental teaching, discipline, and anger management skills. Throughout, case examples and excerpts of therapist-client discussion illuminate both issues and technique.
Presenting effective ways to help potentially abusive families change, this book is indispensable for a wide array of social service and mental health professionals. It complements today's reemphasis on maintaining integrity of the family, as opposed to out-of-home placements, and provides professionals with potent strategies for preventing child abuse and neglect.
David A. Wolfe is Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, and Co-Director of Clinical Training. He is the Director of Research at the Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse in Toronto, where he is involved in the development of policy and research. Dr. Wolfe holds a Diplomate on Clinical Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology, and maintains a practice in child clinical psychology with the Children's Aid Society of London/Middlesex. His research interests focus primarily on adjustment disorders among children from violent and abusive families, and the treatment and prevention of child abuse. he lives in London, Ontario with his wife and two children.