Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Children's maltreatment disclosures, recantations, and supporting evidence of maltreatment
by Reyes Robbins, Ann M., Ph.D., University of Southern California, 2010, 162; 3434554
Abstract (Summary)

Background/Purpose. Research about children’s maltreatment disclosures has largely focused on sexual abuse, which accounts for 9% of maltreatment cases. Reaching a level of understanding about the correlates to child maltreatment disclosure necessitates an inquiry beyond childhood sexual abuse. In light of recent evidence that ecological factors play a role in the disclosure process for sexual abuse, the current study explored the potential for ecological variables to impact children’s disclosures for other types of maltreatment cases. Methods. Constructivist grounded theory guided original research that included an exploratory content analysis of court documents from Los Angeles County. A purposive sample of 55 cases involving 4–9-year-old children was drawn from a larger study that measured children’s willingness to disclose adult transgressions. Methods of analysis included exploratory description of children’s disclosures, a geographic information science (GIS) inquiry, and illustrative case studies that examined in detail the court records for three children alongside their levels of endorsement of disclosure. Research questions considered variables related to the individual child, the child’s family, the community in which the child resided prior to court intervention, and potential societal influences. Results. Differences in children’s disclosure rates and endorsement of disclosure were identified within the sample based on geographical boundaries. Emerging themes also included the influence of sibling disclosure on a subject child’s decision to disclose, a subject child’s increased likelihood of disclosing some type of maltreatment in cases in which physical abuse was alleged, and the high rate of disclosure of some type of maltreatment among Latino/a subject children whose cases involved one or more of the following allegations of neglect or precipitating factors to neglect: failure to supervise, unsanitary residence, failure to provide, medical or dental care neglect, or a parental mental health concern. Conclusions/Implications. This study breaks new ground with comprehensive exploratory methods arising from quantitative data, qualitative data, and GIS contextual data. The findings serve to guide future studies on child maltreatment disclosure and move the field forward to consider additional ecological variables and other types of maltreatment beyond sexual abuse. The findings further highlight the complexity and challenges inherent with studying child neglect disclosure.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Palinkas, Lawrence A.
Commitee: Kincaid, James R., Landsverk, John A., Lyon, Thomas D., Musso, Juliet A.
School: University of Southern California
Department: Social Work
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 72/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social work, Developmental psychology, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Child abuse, Child maltreatment disclosure, Child neglect, Constructivist grounded theory, Disclosure, Ecological systems theory, Geographic information science
Publication Number: 3434554
ISBN: 978-1-124-41484-3
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