glect, integrating biological with behavioral and social context research, as well as studies and controlled prevention trials that integrate basic findings with services research, now provide a solid base for moving forward with more sophisticated and systematic research designs to address important unanswered questions. New knowledge and better research tools can yield a better understanding of the causes of child abuse and neglect, as well as the most effective ways to prevent and treat it.

At the same time, however, the existing research and service system infrastructures are inadequate for taking full advantage of this new knowledge. The committee hopes that this gap will narrow as researchers in diverse domains collaborate to elucidate the underlying causes and consequences of child abuse and neglect, as those implementing promising interventions learn how best to take evidence-based models to scale with fidelity, and as policies are examined more rigorously for their ability to improve outcomes and create a coordinated and efficient system of care.


Two decades ago, the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asked the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study of research needs in the area of child abuse and neglect. That study resulted in the 1993 NRC report, which synthesizes the research on child abuse and neglect and, adopting a child-oriented developmental and ecological perspective, outlines 17 research priorities in an agenda that addresses 4 objectives:

1.   clarify the nature and scope of child maltreatment;

2.   provide an understanding of the origins and consequences of child maltreatment to improve the quality of future policy and program efforts;

3.   provide empirical information about the strengths and limitations of existing interventions while guiding the development of more effective interventions; and

4.   develop a science policy for child maltreatment research that recognizes the importance of national leadership, human and financial resources, instrumentation, and appropriate institutional arrangements.


Since the 1993 report, research on child abuse and neglect has expanded, and understanding of the consequences and other aspects of child abuse and neglect for the children involved, their families, and society has

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement