National Academies Press: OpenBook

Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect (1993)

Chapter: 8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE

« Previous: 7 INTERVENTIONS AND TREATMENT
Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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8
Human Resources, Instrumentation,
and Research Infrastructure

Child maltreatment research in the 1990s will require a diverse mix of professional skills and collaborative efforts. The development of human resources, instrumentation, and research infrastructure in this field is complicated by numerous difficulties, including methodological problems in gaining access to relevant data and study populations; the absence of support for problem-oriented research efforts in academic centers; legal and ethical complexities associated with this kind of research; the lack of a shared research paradigm that can integrate interdisciplinary efforts across maltreatment types (physical abuse, sexual abuse, child neglect, and emotional maltreatment); the absence of data and report archives; and funding inconsistencies associated with changing research priorities in the field of child maltreatment studies.

A variety of disciplines and subject areas contributes to studies of child maltreatment, including medicine (especially pediatrics and psychiatry), psychology, social work, criminal justice, law, sociology, public health, nursing, anthropology, demography, education, statistics, and epidemiology. But few systematic efforts have been made to integrate research on child maltreatment with the knowledge that has evolved from recent studies of normal child development, family systems, and adult and child sexual behavior. Very little progress has been made in integrating research on various social pathologies that include marital violence, community violence, substance abuse, poverty, and injuries.

These disciplines and fields of study have concerned themselves primarily

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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with training practitioners who can provide effective treatment and prevention services rather than undertake research. For example, the 1991 report of the Task Force on Social Work Research describes the limited support for research careers within most social work education programs, the lack of systematic arrangements for collaboration between academic and service agencies in practice-relevant research, and an absence of researcher/practitioner positions in service agencies (Task Force on Social Work Research, 1991). Furthermore, academic training for professionals who must work in the area of child maltreatment has not kept pace with the demands for expertise (Gallmeier and Bonner, 1992). Governmental or private support for pre- and postdoctoral education in child maltreatment has been almost nonexistent, except for a brief 3-year program in the late 1980s and a few graduate fellowships administered by the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN). Most medical researchers are trained during subspecialty fellowships, often by federal clinical or bench research programs. Although a few research universities provide internal fellowship support, no external fellowship training program exists for physicians interested in child abuse. Research fellows who receive training grant awards in areas such as family violence or child development may sometimes focus on child maltreatment issues, but there is little continuity of effort or professional development associated with such opportunistic endeavors.

Consequently, at this juncture, considerable effort is needed to deepen and broaden the human resources, instrumentation, and research infrastructure available for addressing the key research questions. For human resources, we need young research investigators who have been educated in a relevant discipline and who wish to focus their early research studies on selected child maltreatment problems; mature research scientists who wish to contribute their expertise in interdisciplinary child maltreatment research; and specialists in child abuse research who wish to integrate their individual studies into broader collaborative efforts that can explore biological, psychological, legal, social, and cultural aspects of this problem. Efforts are also needed to foster bridges between experienced practitioners and academic scientists who have expertise in theoretical and methodological resources.

This chapter describes existing research programs for child maltreatment studies and current governmental and private support for research on child maltreatment. It concludes with recommendations for priorities for strengthening the human resources, instrumentation, and research infrastructure as part of a multiyear commitment to the development of this field.

The Research Community

No empirical data are available to describe trends in research personnel working in the child maltreatment area, but several disturbing elements are

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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apparent in examining the resources available to this field. About a dozen child maltreatment research programs exist at various universities, medical centers, and child advocacy organizations, but the depth and quality of these centers and the skills and affiliations of their research staff are generally unknown.1 No organized effort has been made to prepare a directory of research centers in the field or to describe or calibrate the growth of child maltreatment studies over the past few decades. At least 10 universities organized NCCAN-funded interdisciplinary training programs on child maltreatment studies in the period 1987-1990, but few of these programs remained in operation when federal funding was no longer available (Bolig, 1992).

Several professional societies (including the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the National Association of Social Workers) have organized task forces or special studies focused on child abuse and neglect, but the level of relevant research expertise within these and other professional organizations is relatively unknown. Practitioners and research scientists have organized specialty societies, such as the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children and the International Society for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse. These societies sponsor conferences and publications to present research knowledge and interpret findings, but they lack resources to organize research committees or to prepare reports to assess critical trends in the availability of research personnel for child maltreatment studies.

Training Issues

Graduate and postdoctorate training in child maltreatment studies was not available until the past decade. In the mid-1980s, despite growing research interest in this field, only one interdisciplinary graduate program in child abuse and neglect had been described in the literature (Duquette and Jones, 1979; Gallmeier and Bonner, 1992). Researchers who are active in the field today received their motivation and training through a variety of circumstances, through personal exposure to child maltreatment cases in medical or social service settings, through personal encouragement from faculty and mentors, and through personal exposure to the crusading efforts of Henry Kempe and other child advocates who shaped social policy in the 1960s. Researchers have been trained in a variety of disciplines, and their research projects are located in a variety of institutional arrangements in the academic sector, including family violence research centers, child development or human behavior research programs, family law research institutes, and social or pediatric medicine departments in medical schools.

Child maltreatment studies do not constitute a separate discipline, but

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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they draw heavily on the traditions and methodology of many social, behavioral, legal, and health disciplines. The field of child maltreatment studies is evolving toward an area of multidisciplinary concentration, characterized by the following: a research literature with key classical texts that are considered essential reading in the training process, a group of experienced researchers who can lead training programs, and a set of essential methods that need to be mastered by researchers in the field. These factors need to be integrated into the training program for new researchers.

The U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect has identified the necessity of the institutionalization and replication of interdisciplinary training in child maltreatment (1990). Although many universities offer graduate courses in child abuse and neglect, often based in their school of social work, school of education, or school of human ecology or human development, less than half a dozen universities sponsor graduate or postgraduate training programs in this field. Yet the number of Ph.D. and other advanced degrees that involve dissertations on child maltreatment studies has been increasing over the past decade, reflecting a growing emphasis on research in this field and a recognition of the importance of graduate training in professional practice (see Figure 8.1). A total of 403 Ph.D. dissertations on child maltreatment were prepared in the period 1974-1991.2

NCCAN funded $150,000 each year during 1988-1991 to each of 10 interdisciplinary graduate training programs that enrolled a total of 418 students from social work, psychology, law, medicine, nursing, education, and other disciplines.3 These training programs were dispersed geographically and included both public and private institutions. Three programs were based in pediatric departments of medical schools, four were in academic departments of social work and psychology, and three were in specialized university research centers. The majority of the programs were directed by an interdisciplinary faculty as well as drawing on community professionals from law enforcement, child protective services, and the judiciary. The training programs achieved consensus regarding the general body of information necessary for practicing professionals in the field of child maltreatment, although considerable variability existed in the length of the programs, student eligibility requirements, and time requirements for classroom instruction and practical experience (Gallmeier and Bonner, 1992). The largest number of students in the training programs came from social work (n = 114) and psychology (n = 97). Other significant disciplines of the enrolled students included law (n = 56), medicine (n = 36), nursing (n = 29), and education (n = 20) (Gallmeier and Bonner, 1992). Students received stipends ranging from $531 to $7,000 per academic year with an average stipend of $1,959 (Gallmeier and Bonner, 1992).

Follow-up studies with these students by Gallmeier and Bonner (1992) suggested that interdisciplinary training influenced the students' career de-

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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image

FIGURE 8.1 Ph.D. Dissertations in Child Maltreatment (U.S.)
*Estimate for 1991 is not complete. SOURCE: Bolig, 1992.

velopment, often resulting in specialization in child abuse and neglect. They reported that 61 percent of the participants in these graduate programs are now working in child abuse and neglect positions, 33 percent have been involved in research, and 12 percent have published or made presentations (30 percent) on child abuse and neglect. The reasons for the lack of continuation of funding for graduate training programs are not clear, but one implicit goal of the NCCAN program was the institutionalization of interdisciplinary training in this field, an objective that did not appear to be successful in the short life of these centers.

Analysis of the training programs and other interdisciplinary educational centers indicates that a crucial factor in initiating and maintaining such efforts is the availability of adequate funding (Gallmeier and Bonner, 1992). Extramural funding is particularly important in building and integrating interdisciplinary efforts within schools that are traditionally organized around separate disciplines and often in separate colleges (social work, medicine, and law). An essential element in the design and operation of these centers is the appointment of a full-time faculty member or administrative officer who assumes responsibility for coordinating and directing the program.

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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Instrumentation Issues

Researchers in the child maltreatment field face complex methodological issues in selecting appropriate instruments and study samples to measure the behavioral, physiological, or attitudinal factors under examination. The absence of support for methodological and instrumental research in child maltreatment studies has impeded scientific progress. Instrumentation research represents a powerful opportunity to move this field beyond theoretical or design problems toward the collection and analysis of empirical data.

In many cases, research instruments may simply not be available. Measures have been developed to assess normal child behavior or other problems in nonabuse samples, but they may not be adequate to assess child maltreatment issues and they may not be standardized on diverse cultural or ethnic populations. Furthermore, available research instruments adapted from other fields may not provide significant information for the practitioner. For example, studies using the Louisville Child Behavior Checklist (a measure of psychopathology in children) find that sexually abused children fall between the means of nonabused children and children in psychiatric care, but this insight provides limited guidance in treatment or clinical care. Finally, difficulties in the use of instruments may result from training—researchers have often come from disciplines that give inadequate attention to the importance of valid and reliable measures and empirical results. For example, in the 1960s and early 1970s the research community, primarily social workers and pediatricians, placed little emphasis on quantitative measurement of social or psychological phenomena. From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, sociologists became heavily involved in child maltreatment research, but sociology as a discipline does not emphasize development and use of multi-item measures (Straus and Wauchope, 1992). In recent years, perhaps as a result of the emphasis on parent-child relationships, psychologists have become the predominant investigators of child maltreatment, and they bring to the field a well-developed tradition of test development.

Measures of personality or psychopathology commonly used in child maltreatment studies have high rates of reliability and validity. In contrast, standard instruments are generally not available to measure family characteristics (Straus, 1964; Straus and Brown, 1978). Overall, the use of standard measures of family characteristics and social environmental characteristics seems to be less frequent in child maltreatment research than in family research. This may be because child maltreatment research depends heavily on agency cases for both the sample and data, or it may reflect disciplinary biases in the training of the research community.

As noted in the previous chapters, methodology and instrumentation

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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issues present one of the most significant barriers to the development of child maltreatment research. A number of issues deserve particular attention:

Uncertainties about the nature and significance of the phenomena to be measured. Current research emphasizes at least three different phenomena (the presence or severity of maltreatment, outcomes or effects, and risk factors) that pose different types of methodological challenges in determining their fundamental characteristics and properties.

Absence of large sets of empirical data and inconsistencies in the type of data collected. Several different types of data have been used to create measures of the above phenomena, including direct observation in the field or laboratory, structured performance in response to a standardized task, self-report through interview or questionnaire, and coding case records or other qualitative materials. Until the recent creation of the National Data Archive of Child Abuse and Neglect,4 no central depositories were available to facilitate the secondary analyses of empirical data sets created through retrospective or prospective studies.5

Inconsistencies regarding the reliability or validity of measures used in child maltreatment research. Current instruments differ in the extent to which they have evidence demonstrating such desirable psychometric qualities as reliability and validity.

One analysis of the measurements commonly used in maltreatment studies was generated from a review by Straus (1992) of 617 articles published in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect for the period 1979-1989. Although a single journal is inadequate, this is the longest established (since 1978) of the journals specializing in research on intrafamily maltreatment (there are now at least four others), and it is a publication of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. Of 617 articles reviewed, 86 percent did not use an instrument6 to measure any variable at all. Even though there was an increase in the use of instruments in the second half of this decade, even in the late 1980s, two-thirds used no quantitative measure. Perhaps more important, the instruments invoked are predominantly those that are borrowed from other fields, rather than developed specifically for studies of child maltreatment.

The development and use of standardized measures in child maltreatment research are complicated by an additional set of pragmatic and professional factors, including the lack of budgetary support in research projects for establishing reliability, validity, and normative work for instrumentation; publication policies that discourage discussions of psychometric work that may lengthen the reporting of research results; and research sponsors' preference for substantive rather than methodological interests.

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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Information Services

An additional topic that deserves consideration in examining research infrastructure issues is a quantitative and qualitative examination of the scientific literature on child maltreatment. Before 1970, electronic databases recorded only a dozen or so journal articles on this topic per year (Willis et al., 1991). By 1990, the annual record of psychological and behavioral publications alone was over 400 articles per year (Willis et al., 1991). But the research literature on child maltreatment is highly disaggregated—articles appear in dozens of specialty journals in medicine, psychology, social work, criminal justice, law, and other disciplines. As a result, it is difficult to track the development of any particular line of inquiry or to compare research results from separate studies.

Research literature on child maltreatment is also characterized by a large amount of ''fugitive" research reports, such as project, evaluation, or workshop reports that do not appear in archived journals or books. The absence of systematic archiving impedes academic researchers who are particularly dependent on the scholarly literature for research materials.

The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect and the National Clearinghouse on Family Violence in Fairfax, Virginia, supported by NCCAN, provide database searches of more than 15,000 documents in the clearinghouse files. The database is available to the public through DIALOG Information Services, Inc. (File 64), which indexes publications, pamphlets, brochures, grants, profiles, and bibliographies designed to disseminate child maltreatment information to professionals and the public. NCCAN also funds the National Information Clearinghouse on Infants with Disabilities and Life-Threatening Conditions in Columbia, South Carolina. Other public and private clearinghouse services include literature that may be relevant to child maltreatment studies, such as the National Clearinghouse on Service Integration operated by the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University in New York and the Resource Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and Disability in Washington, D.C.

In addition, NCCAN supports two national resource centers that provide information assistance and literature on child maltreatment issues: the National Resource Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, located near Denver, Colorado, and the National Resource Center on Child Sexual Abuse in Huntsville, Alabama. The purpose of the NCCAN-supported clearinghouse and national resource centers is to improve the capacity of public and private agencies to respond effectively to child abuse and neglect (NCCAN, 1992).7

In 1977 NCCAN published 21 User Manuals designed to provide guidance to professionals involved in the child protection system and to enhance the quality of services available for children and families. Recently up-

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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dated, the manuals provide reviews of information and resources on selected topics, including a guide for child protective services caseworkers; the role of educators in the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect; preventing and treating child sexual abuse; and protecting children in substance abusing families. These examplary documents provide valuable illustrations of the types of synthesis reports that are needed at this time to link recent research findings to social service.

Other information services are available through clearinghouse programs established within the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The National Criminal Justice Reference Services has a collection of more than 116,000 books, articles, and reports dealing with criminal justice issues. The document database can be searched directly on DIALOG, CD-ROM, or by calls to the reference service. Associated clearinghouses are the Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Bureau of Justice Statistics Clearinghouse; the Bureau of Justice Assistance Clearinghouse; and the National Victims Resource Center for the Office for Victims of Crime.

NIJ has developed a series of exemplary information services, including the "Research in Action" and "Research in Brief" programs of the National Criminal Justice Reference Services and the Issues and Practices in Criminal Justice series. The "Research in Action'' series disseminates reprints of feature articles published in the NIJ publication NIJ Reports. "Research in Brief" provides easy-to-read summaries of research results and policy discussions on selected aspects of criminal justice. In addition, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention disseminates summaries of selected research papers. Examples of relevant papers featured in these services include "Prosecuting Child Sexual Abuse—New Approaches" by Debra Whitcomb (Research in Action, 1986); "The Cycle of Violence" by Cathy Spatz Widom (Research in Brief, 1990); "Police and Child Abuse: New Policies for Expanded Responsibilities" by Susan Martin and Douglas Besharov (Issues and Practices in Criminal Justice, 1991); and "Child Sexual Abuse Victims and Their Treatment" by Beverly Gomes-Schwartz et al. (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention paper, 1988). NIJ information services provide excellent summaries of current or recently completed research projects to encourage the dissemination and use of research findings throughout the criminal justice system.

Although some useful resources can be identified, the field of child maltreatment studies has not successfully developed a comprehensive information service designed to integrate research publications from diverse professional and private sources in an easily accessible format. Except for the NIJ "Research in Brief" and "Research in Action" programs, which focus primarily on criminal justice research, to the panel's knowledge no comprehensive database currently exists that reviews on an ongoing basis child

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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maltreatment research findings from the fields of psychology, social work, medicine, and other relevant disciplines.

Federal Funding For Research
On Child Maltreatment

Federal research support for studies of child maltreatment is divided among 28 separate offices in 5 federal departments: the departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, Education, Defense, and Department of Transportation (NCCAN, 1992).8 No central repository currently exists to maintain an ongoing index of federally supported research on child maltreatment. The forms of federal research support are diverse, including large research center program support awards, individual research awards, data collection efforts, evaluations of demonstration projects, and individual training grants. With the exception of the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect, which has a small research program focused explicitly on studies of child maltreatment, most federal agencies support child maltreatment research in the context of other scientific objectives or program responsibilities, such as research on violence, maternal and child health care, and criminal justice. As a result, federally supported research activities that may advance scientific knowledge of the identification, causes, consequences, treatment, and prevention of child abuse and neglect are often difficult to identify because they are embedded within studies that have multiple objectives.

Because of variations in criteria defining child maltreatment research and the absence of a central indexing service, information about the levels and types of federal research support for child maltreatment studies is difficult to obtain. The panel experienced difficulty in documenting the current level of effort of federal research support in this area as well as in estimating the relevance of individual federal research projects to studies of child maltreatment. An initial set of research figures for fiscal 1992 only were provided by the research subcommittee of the Interagency Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. These figures are summarized in Table 8.1.

A 1990 study for the Federal Interagency Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect stated that federal agencies reported a total of $8,168,931 in fiscal 1989 for the support of extramural research on "child abuse and neglect, its consequences and services," of which 70 percent ($5,753,061) "was used for research primarily relevant to child abuse and neglect" (Westover, 1990:30). These figures were cited by the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect in the draft of their third annual report (U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, 1992:43). The Westover report indicated that intramural support for research conducted by agency staff on child abuse and neglect was "at a minimum of $660,000" for fiscal 1989.

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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TABLE 8.1 Federal Funding for Child Maltreatment Research, Fiscal 1992 ($ millions)

Agency

Research Budget

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

 

Administration for Children, Youth and Families

 

National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect

$5.4

Children's Bureau

0.4

Public Health Service

 

National Institute of Mental Health

 

Violence and Traumatic Stress Branch

3.2

Service Systems Branch

0.6

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

2.1a

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

0.1

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

0.0b

Maternal and Child Health

 

U.S. Department of Justice

 

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

1.5

Office of Justice Programs/National Institute of Justice

0.9

U.S. Department of Education

 

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research

0.2

U.S. Department of Defense

 

Family Advocacy Programs (Navy, Air Force)

0.2

Total

$14.8

NOTE: As noted in the text, over 28 federal agencies or offices have reported research activities in the field of child maltreatment. Many federal research activities involve isolated studies that include child maltreatment issues as part of larger program efforts focused on issues such as family functioning, child development, and substance abuse. These broadly focused studies are not included in the table.

Research budgets reported were derived from a review of research project summaries that are judged by the federal funding officials to be directly relevant to child maltreatment. Projects that have an indirect relationship to child maltreatment research have not been included in compiling these estimates. The research budgets include both extramural and intramural research, although a large majority of the federal research (over 90 percent in fiscal 1992) is extramural.

aNICHD also supported a much larger set of research projects, not focused specifically on child abuse and neglect, but focused on issues which could be considered among the antecedents for child maltreatment. This larger set of research projects totaled $14,877,313 in FY 1992.

bIn recent fiscal years, CDC has funded about $150,000 per year in child maltreatment research, although no projects were reported for FY 1992.

SOURCE: Forum on Federal Funding, Child Abuse and Neglect Research, FY1992, Interagency Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect, December 3, 1992.

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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It is important to note that these figures reflect only research that is "primarily relevant" to child abuse and neglect studies. Additional research efforts indirectly related to child maltreatment are also sponsored by the federal agencies, although the level of investment in these secondary research efforts is not possible to calculate at this time in the absence of consensus about the relevance of studies about parent-child interactions, substance abuse, family violence, and juvenile delinquency to child maltreatment.9

For example, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported to the panel that it supported 99 active research projects as of March 30, 1992, "with relevance for child abuse and neglect." The total cost of these projects alone was reported as $14,439,618. But only a few of these projects specifically focus on abused children. Most research supported by the institute concerns the relationship of the mother (caretaker) and infant or child and intervening factors that may damage the development of this relationship and thus may serve as antecedents for or help to explain the role of buffering or protective factors in the prevention of child maltreatment. However, child abuse and neglect is not generally addressed as an outcome measure in studies supported by NICHD.

The relevance of child maltreatment research to the central mission of each federal department appears to be idiosyncratic and uneven. For example, the Department of Defense sponsors research that is directly relevant to child maltreatment issues through its Family Advocacy Program. One such study, developed by the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire and sponsored by the U.S. Navy in coordination with NCCAN, is examining a sample of Navy fathers who had committed incest with their daughters matched with a sample of Navy men who were not incest offenders.

Although the U.S. Department of Education sponsors prevention, public awareness and education, and demonstration project activities in areas such as the needs of American Indian children, projects for migrant families, and intervention activities for children of alcoholics, no research is currently being conducted by that department on the process by which educators detect, identify, and report child maltreatment or the relationship between child maltreatment and academic performance.

Adopting a comprehensive, precise view of research on child maltreatment presents certain difficulties of identification, organization, and taxonomy. Efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect and to improve child welfare are found among a wide range of federal programs within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including Head Start, Aid to Families With Dependent Children, the JOBS program, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Medicaid, Healthy Start, the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, and the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Block Grant, even though these efforts are not "child abuse" in name and no

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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systematic effort has been made to evaluate the lessons for child maltreatment learned from them.10 Various direct services for abused children and their families, demonstration projects, and educational and information dissemination activities are scattered throughout other federal program efforts, including the Office of Science and Education Extension Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior, and the Interagency Council on the Homeless in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

However, only a few federal programs sponsor intramural or extramural research on child abuse and neglect. Table 8.2 presents a summary of the federal agencies that responded to a 1989 survey indicating that they conducted or sponsored data collection efforts or research directly related to child abuse and neglect. As noted earlier, most of these child maltreatment research programs are imbedded in more comprehensive research efforts such as those focused on family violence, injuries, or juvenile justice.

Clearly, not all research on children, families, poverty, and violence is relevant to studies of child maltreatment. However, the fragmented and specialized character of the current federal research portfolio for studies on families, children, and violence can hamper systematic efforts to organize and build on advances in research. The specialized roles of federal programs that are relevant to studies of child maltreatment continue to inhibit the development of this field. Research investigators and program officers in separate agencies are often unaware of previous studies, data, or active projects related to their research interests. Researchers funded by separate agencies to conduct studies on aspects of child maltreatment often work with separate theoretical paradigms, use different sample populations, develop project-specific methodologies, draw on separate research databases, and present their results in a wide variety of journals and professional meetings. The absence of a central tracking and documentation resource center and the diffuse organization of the federal research portfolio, as well as the fragmented bureaucratic and legislative requirements that are associated with child maltreatment, inhibit the development of a dynamic and interdisciplinary research field.

Recognizing the current inabilities to describe with accuracy all relevant federal research programs, we present a brief overview of federal research activities that are significantly related to child maltreatment below.11

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration on Children, Youth, and Families

National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect. NCCAN is the lead source of funding within the federal government for activities that address

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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TABLE 8.2 Federal Agencies or Offices Having Research Activities Specific to Child Abuse and Neglect (N = 28)

Agency or Office

Ongoing Data Collection

Research

Primarily Relevant to CA/N

Department of Defense:

     

U.S. Air Force

X

 

BOTH

U.S. Army

X

 

BOTH

U.S. Navy

X

X

BOTH

Office of Family Policy and Support

X

 

BOTH

Department of Education:

     

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, OSERS

 

X

CA/N

Dept. of Health and Human Services:

     

Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Admin.

 

X

CA/N

Antisocial and Violent Behavior Branch, NIMH

     

National Institute on Drug Abuse

 

X

BOTH

Children's Bureau, ACYF, OHDS

 

X

RELT'D

Center for Environmental Health and Injury Control, CDC, PHS

 

X

RELT'D

Indian Health Service, PHS

X

X

RELT'D

National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, ACYF, OHDS

X

X

CA/N (ALL ACTIV)

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH HRSA, PHS

 

X

CA/N

Office of Planning, Policy and Legislation, OHDS

X

 

BOTH

Department of Justicea:

     

Federal Bureau of Investigation

X

X

RELT'D

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

 

X

RELT'D

Department of Transportation:

     

U.S. Coast Guard

X

 

BOTH

Total agencies or offices

9

11

 

aResearch sponsored by the National Institute of Justice was not reported in the survey.

SOURCE: Westover (1990:28).

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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child abuse and neglect (NCCAN, 1992). NCCAN allocates federal funds appropriated through several pieces of legislation (primarily the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, as amended);12 assists states and communities in activities for child abuse prevention, identification, and treatment; and coordinates federal child maltreatment activities, including a federal interagency task force composed of 31 representatives of 8 federal departments and agencies.

The primary function of NCCAN is not research, but the agency has discretionary funds for research studies. NCCAN research programs on child abuse and neglect are focused primarily on intrafamilial abuse and generally exclude offenders who are not a parent, custodian, guardian, or person responsible for the child.

NCCAN administers four categories of federal funding to support state programs for child abuse and neglect activities, including (1) basic grants for improving child protection services agencies and child maltreatment intervention programs; (2) medical neglect grants to states to enable them to respond to reports of medical neglect, including instances of withholding treatment from disabled infants; (3) Children's Justice Act grants to improve state handling of child abuse cases in order to reduce adverse consequences to the child, particularly in child sexual abuse cases; and (4) challenge grants to encourage the development of trust funds to support child maltreatment prevention activities (NCCAN, 1992). At times, these state grants support individual research projects, but neither NCCAN nor the states maintain a central inventory that tracks current state research projects on child maltreatment or the findings of such projects.

Of particular interest to the panel are aspects of the NCCAN extramural research grants and demonstration awards, discussed below.

(1)

Discretionary Research and Demonstration Projects. In the 17 years since its formation, NCCAN has funded 181 research grants, totalling $51.6 million. In fiscal 1991, NCCAN funded approximately 16 new discretionary research awards ($6.7 million) and 5 new demonstration projects ($4.6 million).

 

NCCAN's data collection projects including two National Studies of the Incidence and Prevalence of Child Abuse and Neglect (commonly referred to as the National Incidence Studies or NIS-1 or NIS-2) and a two-year planning grant for the third National Incidence Study. In addition, the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), developed by an NCCAN contractor, collects and analyzes information from state child protective service agencies to provide a comprehensive overview of similarities and differences and to encourage greater uniformity and consistency among state reporting data systems (see Chapter 3 for further details about NIS and NCANDS).

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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(2)

Use of Peer Review and Research Expertise. NCCAN is required by law to use reviewers who have backgrounds in research on child abuse and neglect. The NCCAN peer review system has been criticized because in the early 1980s some projects were funded out of sequence of the priority scores assigned to them by reviewers.13 Under its current administrative leadership, NCCAN has taken steps to strengthen its research infrastructure, to improve the peer review quality of its discretionary grants program, and to strengthen third-party evaluations of demonstration awards. However, problems still remain. In contrast to the study section procedures utilized by the National Institute of Mental Health and the peer review process administered by NIJ, NCCAN is governed by the administrative procedures of all research programs of the Administration for Children, Youth, and Families, which have only one annual submission date, with no opportunity for revisions and resubmittals if research priorities should change in the following year. In addition, major demonstration projects funded by NCCAN consistently lack strong evaluation components, a situation that results in the loss of important research data for practitioners and researchers. The following factors that generally discourage the development of an effective research program in child maltreatment within NCCAN have been identified by the panel:

 

The absence of a multiyear program plan to guide the development of research fields and the training of young investigators;

 

Annual changes in research priorities that guide the solicitations for Request for Proposals (RFPs) and that inhibit opportunities for revisons and resubmissions;

 

RFPs that set upper limits at less than the cost of conducting the designated research;

 

Limited funds for investigator-initiated research proposals;

 

Limited amount of feedback to those who propose research;

 

The use of reviewers who lack research experience in the evaluation of research grant proposals; and

 

The absence of staff members at NCCAN who have research experience.

(3)

Mandated Studies. In addition to discretionary research and demonstration projects, NCCAN develops certain studies in response to legislative requirements, often by selection of contractors from nonacademic institutions. Since 1974, Congress has mandated the preparation of eight different reports, including the series of National Incidence Studies and five special studies on the following topics: nonpayment of child support in maltreating families; the maltreatment of handicapped children; child maltreatment in alcohol abusing families; high-risk child abuse and neglect groups; and

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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guardian ad litem efforts. The results of these mandated studies are often delayed and are rarely published in the peer-reviewed literature.

U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect. The U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, which was legislatively mandated in the 1988 amendments to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, has established a task force to address research needs. The board does not sponsor research programs itself, but it has published two annual reports with research policy recommendations and it is preparing a third report examining research infrastructure issues within federal programs on child maltreatment.

Children's Bureau. The Children's Bureau administers formula grants to states under Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act for foster care maintenance payments; adoption assistance for children with special needs; and child welfare services to children and their families who are in need of such services.

The need for foster care or child welfare services often may result from incidents of child maltreatment. Child welfare services also seek to assist families in promoting supportive behaviors that will prevent abuse and neglect and reunite families when possible. The Children's Bureau supports child welfare training programs and occasionally supports research and demonstration projects in areas relevant to child maltreatment, such as the prevention of parent-child separation; foster family care; institutional care; licensing; and adoption of special needs children. In fiscal 1992, for example, the Children's Bureau supported projects on the prevention of foster care placement of children at risk for domestic violence; a study on family environment, stress, and cognitive functioning in physical and sexual abuse; and the development of a multistate foster care data archive.

Other ACYF Programs. Activities relevant to child maltreatment research interests are located in various other offices and centers within the Administration for Children, Youth, and Families, including the Family and Youth Services Bureau (which administers programs for youth at risk, including runaway and homeless youth and youth affected by alcohol and drug abuse) and the Head Start Bureau (which funds resource centers and educational materials to promote self-sufficiency and provide opportunities for parents to enhance their skills).

Public Health Service

Several organizational components within the Public Health Service have developed intramural and extramural research projects relevant to child maltreatment.

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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National Institute of Mental Health. Recently transferred to the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) supports research and training projects in several areas in mental health studies that are relevant to child maltreatment. NIMH sponsors studies of victims of interpersonal violence, including research on risk factors and mental health consequences of childhood victimization experiences; studies on the perpetrators of violence, including research on the causes and management of aggressive and violent behavior in children, adolescents, and adults; and research on legal and mental health issues, including the handling of mentally disordered adults and juvenile offenders in the criminal justice system and mental health issues of family law (NCCAN, 1992).

NIMH research projects on child maltreatment are sponsored in the same manner as other research at the National Institutes of Health, involving the use of research experts in study section reviews of research proposals; active support for investigator-initiated research as well as research that falls within topics designated as priorities within NIMH program plan; and appropriate feedback to research investigators who are often encouraged to strengthen and resubmit their proposals if funds are not available to support their work upon the initial submission.

Most of the NIMH research is funded through the Branch on Violence and Anti-Social Behavior, which supports studies on victimization and related legal intervention as well as studies on the perpetrators of interpersonal violence. The 1990 survey prepared for the Inter-Agency Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect (Westover, 1990) estimated that NIMH spends about $1.0 to $1.5 million annually in extramural research on child maltreatment studies. At least one demonstration project (involving the development of an interview protocol for diagnosing or treating child sexual abuse) has been funded through the NIMH Small Business Development program.

In addition, NIMH supports training grant awards for both individual investigators and research institutions. NIMH has supported pre- and postdoctoral studies focused on child maltreatment and currently supports research fellows through institutional training grant awards in the area of family violence, sexual aggression, law and mental health, and spouse abuse, many of whom are working on different aspects of child abuse and neglect. The total amount of training grant awards for fiscal 1991 was about $400,000.

Because of the scientific strength of the NIMH research program and the perceived weaknesses of NCCAN's scientific review process, some critics—including the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect—have proposed that the lead agency responsibility for supporting research on child maltreatment should be transferred from NCCAN to NIMH. Others have urged caution in considering such a move, noting that such a transfer could lessen the importance of the situational context of child maltreatment and

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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widen the gap between federally supported research and the social service officials and clinicians who are often a key audience for research findings on child maltreatment.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). NICHD provides research in a broad range of areas related to child development, parent-child interactions, and family functioning, much of which is relevant to child maltreatment studies. Recent studies supported by NICHD include examination of social influences on child development, pathways to secure attachment, medical complications and parenting, prematurity and maternal depression effects on infants, the psychobiology of stress in failure-to-thrive infants, and domestic violence and evaluation of children's testimony. NICHD provides extensive support for research studies on early child care that have contributed to the etiology of child maltreatment. NICHD also provides support for the research on animal behaviors that are relevant to child maltreatment studies. Yet NICHD is not listed in the 1992 federal guide to funding resources for child abuse and neglect and family violence programs (NCCAN, 1992).

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Following the recent formation of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), several research institutes previously associated with the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration, such as NIMH, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, were transferred to the National Institutes of Health. NIAAA, for example, is currently sponsoring projects on childhood victimization and risk for alcohol problems and a 5-year study to examine the reciprocal effects of alcohol and family violence in the development of alcohol problems in adult women. Other programs within SAMSHA that have research relevance to child maltreatment studies include research sponsored by the Office for Substance Abuse Prevention and the Office for Substance Abuse Treatment.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The broad scope of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is to prevent unnecessary mortality and morbidity, encompasses a wide range of activities relevant to child maltreatment. For example, CDC's National Center for Health Statistics analyzes childhood mortality data and trends. CDC's Division of Injury Control, particularly the Intentional Injuries Section, focuses specifically on both accidental and intentional injuries and sponsors research on child abuse, child homicide, and assaults among family members and other intimates. CDC research studies sponsored in fiscal 1992 include analyses of geographic patterns of fatal child abuse and neglect in children less than 5 years of age; estimates of fatal child abuse and neglect

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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in the United States; and the development of a computerized inventory of federally funded research on injury control.

Maternal and Child Health Bureau. The Maternal and Child Health Bureau within the Health Resources and Services Administration sponsors a range of activities to improve the health status of mothers and children. Although the bureau funds a limited number of research studies (most notably, the home visitation research program conducted by David Olds at the University of Rochester), it has supported a broad range of projects addressing issues such as family violence, injury prevention, minority health care, the relationship between teenage pregnancy and child maltreatment, coordinated care for child abuse victims, child prostitution, drug-addicted infants, and the sequelae of child maltreatment.

The bureau has also supported the development of interventions such as the Resource Mothers program that are designed to support new mothers in dealing with the emotional and behavioral stresses that result from the demands of a newborn.

The Indian Health Service. The Indian Health Service seeks to improve the health status of American Indians and Alaskan Natives through a comprehensive set of health care and prevention programs. It supports only a few research projects but has funded a wide range of demonstration efforts in the area of child maltreatment, including adolescent behavior problems, alcoholism and alcohol abuse, childhood injuries and child safety, and child homicide.

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has addressed research issues on child maltreatment in the preparation of its report Health Objectives for the Year 2000. This report targets specific Public Health Service goals relevant to the reduction of the reported incidence of child maltreatment.

Department of Justice
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)

OJJDP is part of the Office of Justice Programs, which provides research support for a wide range of programs and services related to the handling of child maltreatment cases within the law enforcement and judicial system. OJJDP's research program seeks to develop knowledge regarding national trends in juvenile delinquency; develop a statistical and systems program for sharing data collection among juvenile justice agencies; identify developmental pathways to delinquent careers; examine methods for preventing, intervening, and treating delinquency; and analyze practices

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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and trends in the juvenile justice system. It also provides technical training and assistance to various public and private agencies who serve the juvenile justice system. A special area of emphasis is the Missing and Exploited Children's Program ($8.4 million in fiscal 1992), which includes research and demonstration programs focused on data collection, improving the response to missing children incidents, examining the psychological impact of abductions on children and families, and behavioral analysis of child molesters and abductors. In addition, the Juvenile Justice Institute, within the OJJDP, has a research budget in fiscal 1992 of $10.7 million. About $1.5 million of the total OJJDP budget in fiscal 1992 was directly related to child maltreatment studies.

National Institute of Justice

NIJ is a separate branch in the department's Office of Justice Programs. NIJ has a research program designed to improve court processes, including the tracking and handling of child maltreatment cases as well as alternative methods of case disposition. NIJ is sponsoring a comprehensive multisite review of child abuse case processing in the justice system, to be conducted by the American Bar Association's Center on Children and the Law in collaboration with other contractors. It also supports research designed to improve the coordination of criminal and juvenile court actions in child maltreatment cases and the supervision and management of sex offenders, including child molesters. The total research budget of NIJ in fiscal 1992 was $12 million, of which $900,000 was directly related to child maltreatment studies.

Other Federal Departments

Other federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Education (through the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research), the Department of Defense (through the Family Advocacy Programs in the various armed service branches), and the Department of Transportation (through the Coast Guard's Family Advocacy Program) have small research or data collection programs relevant to child maltreatment studies. A comprehensive inventory of such programs is available in the 1992 Guide to Funding Resources for Child Abuse and Neglect and Family Violence Programs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (NCCAN, 1992).

State Roles In Research On Child Maltreatment

No comprehensive inventory of state research programs exists for studies on child maltreatment issues, and it is unlikely that the total amount of

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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research funds available from individual state agencies is significant (i.e., greater than $1 million per year). However, individual scientists reported to the panel that they have received occasional research support from various state agencies, including the maternal and child health departments, family services offices, and the children's trust funds in the states of Hawaii, Illinois, and Minnesota. The decentralized and sporadic nature of state-funded research efforts discourages efforts to build collaborative interdisciplinary research teams focused on complex research topics. For example, when states require evaluation of child maltreatment treatment or other intervention programs, they often have limited funds available for such research. It might be preferable for states to pool resources to develop larger, better funded, and more rigorous evaluation teams.

States are a potential source of support for specific training and data collection programs in areas such as the criminal justice, education, and public health systems that need to be integrated into comprehensive studies of outcomes and consequences of child abuse and neglect. It is useful to think of the state agencies as important partners in building an expanded research base for studies of child maltreatment.

State science programs are expected to assume a larger role in sponsoring research related to domestic health, social, and environmental issues in the decades ahead. The 1992 report of the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology and Government, for example, concluded that new scientific and technological advisory organizations will be needed to foster better communication between and within the states. These organizations will need to improve the gathering of scientific knowledge, of learning from one another, and of suggesting research priorities in national science and technology forums (Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology and Government, 1992). Studies on child maltreatment should be viewed as an important opportunity for building collaborative state research organizations directed toward long-term improvements in social service programs in areas such as child protection, child welfare, family counseling, and foster care.

Private Foundations

In addition to governmental research funding, at least eight private foundations have selected child abuse and neglect as a priority funding area. These foundations are the Bodman Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Foundation for Child Development, the William T. Grant Foundation, the Santa Fe Pacific Foundation, and the Edwin S. Webster Foundation. Despite this interest, the amount of funds provided by private foundations for studies on child maltreatment is quite limited.

Many other foundations support closely related research in fields such

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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as poverty, maternal and child health, and family relationships. For example, at least 15 nongovernmental sources have been identified for research on child psychology and child development, and 13 nongovernmental sources are identified for research on child welfare.14 However, no comprehensive inventory of appropriate funding sources for child maltreatment research from the private philanthropic community exists.

The nongovernmental sector may be an important source of potential support for dissertation and graduate studies on the relationships among child maltreatment, child development, family welfare, poverty, and parenting practices. It is most important, therefore, to see the private sector as a collaborator in strengthening the research foundation for studies on child maltreatment.

Conclusions

The infrastructure for child maltreatment research has developed in a haphazard, piecemeal fashion, reflecting the absence of a national plan for providing research, education, and professional support for studies of child abuse and neglect. Governmental roles in this area have been complicated by the absence of sufficient funds to support a robust research program, uncertainties about the most promising research directions to pursue, an emphasis on categorical program efforts in governmental research agencies, tensions between the role of the federal and state governments in sponsoring projects in areas such as child maltreatment, and child and family welfare, and conflicting social values about the proper interventions to develop in response to child maltreatment incidents. Tensions also exist in the allocation of funds between professional and social services for maltreated children and their families and research projects that seem to provide no immediate benefits for these groups.

Given the current status and evolution of child maltreatment studies, it is important to maintain a broad diversity of parallel efforts. Top-down or centralized approaches should be avoided that may discourage or fail to recognize the significance of emerging theoretical paradigms, instrumentation research, and other approaches that seek to extend the boundaries of current knowledge about the causes, scope, and consequences of child abuse and neglect. In particular, attention to cultural and ethnic issues that affect our understanding of childhood needs, child development, and family life require a breadth of effort that currently does not exist in the research community.

While diversity of effort is important to maintain, the panel concludes that better national leadership is needed to organize the research base. Such leadership requires more informed documentation of research efforts so that scientific findings, instrumentation, theory, and data can be better recorded, integrated, and disseminated to researchers and practitioners. There is also

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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a pressing need to connect education and research so that individuals who become caseworkers, family counselors, administrators, legal officials, and future scientists have a richer understanding of the complexities of child maltreatment. Finally, the development of both young and mature scientists needs attention to build a foundation for future explorations of the intricate scientific questions that lie ahead.

Research Recommendations

Human Resources

Recommendation 8-1: Better measures are needed to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the available pool of researchers who can contribute to studies of child maltreatment. A directory of active research investigators, identifying key fields of research interests, should be developed in collaboration with professional societies and child advocacy organizations, whose members have research experience on child abuse and neglect.

Recommendation 8-2: Governmental agencies and foundations that sponsor research in child maltreatment need to recognize the importance of strengthening research resources in the disciplines that contribute to understanding of child abuse and neglect. In particular, efforts to cross-fertilize research across and within disciplines are necessary at this time.

Researchers in child maltreatment projects increasingly need to cross disciplinary boundaries, in terms of theories, instrumentation, and constructs, and to integrate relevant literature from multiple disciplines. For example, researchers in the area of physical abuse focus on attachment behaviors, while those who study sexual abuse examine symptoms of behavioral distress. These areas have much in common, but they are difficult to integrate in the current literature because the two forms of abuse are treated as distinct entities. Similarly, research on stress and trauma needs to integrate findings from the psychological literature with more recent physiological findings, such as those that examine the relationship between sexual abuse, stress, and early puberty.

Recommendation 8-3: The creation of a corps of research-practitioners familiar with studies of child maltreatment, especially in the fields of law, medicine, psychology, social work, sociology, criminal justice, and public health, should be an explicit goal of federal, state, and private agencies that operate programs in areas of child welfare, child protection, maternal and child health, and family violence.

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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The purpose of the development of staff positions for research-practitioners is to encourage the development of studies on selected child maltreatment issues as well as to facilitate the integration of relevant research findings into agency services and programs.

Recommendation 8-4: The cultural and ethnic diversity of the corps of research investigators concerned with child maltreatment studies is not broad enough to explore the importance of culture and ethnicity in theories, instrumentation, and other aspects of research on child abuse and neglect. Special efforts are needed at this time to provide educational and research support for researchers from ethnic and cultural minorities to strengthen the diversity of human resources dedicated to this topic.

Training Programs

Recommendation 8-5: The interdisciplinary nature of child maltreatment research requires the development of specialized disciplinary expertise as well as opportunities for collaborative research studies. Postdoctoral training programs designed to deepen a young scientist's interests in research on child abuse and neglect should be given preference at this time over graduate student dissertation support, although both training efforts are desirable in the long-term.

The absence of external fellowship training for health professionals interested in child maltreatment research is particularly appalling, given the broad range of roles that health professionals are expected to play in detecting, identifying, confirming, treating, and preventing child abuse and neglect. In addition, fellowship support is necessary to cultivate interdisciplinary training in such areas as pediatrics, forensics, forensic pathology, infectious diseases, gynecology, sociology, psychiatry, psychology, and criminal justice. Researchers in this field need resources to mentor young trainees and to guide postdoctoral investigators to funding for new research projects.

Recommendation 8-6: Federal agencies should develop mechanisms to provide continuing support, in collaboration with state agencies, for interdisciplinary training programs that can provide graduate and post-graduate education in the examination of child maltreatment issues.

Although most graduate and postgraduate education occurs within academic settings, child maltreatment research relies heavily on clinical and programmatic service needs. Therefore, the panel supports the need for providing research and training opportunities for scientist-practitioners in a variety of settings. Training in program research may sometimes involve field studies based in major national advocacy or direct service agencies.

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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The panel believes this approach is most appropriate, provided such studies are administered by academic programs.

Recommendation 8-7: Research agencies should give priority attention to the development and dissemination of research instruments that have been shown to be effective in improving the quality of data collected in child maltreatment studies. Particular attention should be given in the near term to instruments that improve the identification of child maltreatment in order to lessen research dependence on reported cases of child abuse and neglect. Attention should be given to the development of instruments that are sensitive to ethnic and cultural differences and that can improve the quality of etiology and consequences studies in selected subgroups.

NCCAN has recently called attention to inadequacy in measurement by stating that research proposals should use standard and valid instruments whenever possible. This is a much needed step, but it can cause problems if rigidly applied.

For example, a program guideline that requires the use of established instruments would severely curtail the development of new measures. Most new measures are, in fact, developed as part of a substantive research project. Those that survive and become established measures do so because the investigator provided appropriate methodological information (a copy of the full instrument, a description of how it was developed, clear scoring instructions, reliability coefficients, and information on validity whenever possible). This basic type of information is rarely provided, hence the scarcity of established instruments despite the fact that literally thousands of tests and scales have been developed.

Since inadequate measurement can undermine even the best-designed study, the panel concludes that agencies supporting research on child maltreatment (such as NCCAN) and research on measures of psychological or social interest (such as the National Science Foundation) should collaborate to encourage the development of new measures and to validate existing instruments that are used in research on child maltreatment. Although there is a vast array of such instruments, it may be possible to identify variables that should have priority in measure development. One group consists of techniques to measure individual experiences with child maltreatment per se, such as measures of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse and neglect. This approach would relieve the field of its overdependence on agency samples and case records.

Measures of etiologic variables and measures of the effects of child maltreatment are more difficult to deal with because they involve a broader spectrum of psychological and sociological measures. One strategy is to select a few key concepts for measure development, knowing in advance

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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that consensus may be impossible. Agencies funding child maltreatment research can encourage proposals for research to develop and validate measures of these concepts. However, because the need for adequate measures of child, family, and social environmental variables covers such a wide range, agencies funding social science research of all types need to collaborate in their efforts to foster measure development. Without such a commitment, peer review committees tend to focus on substantive issues and are not likely to emphasize the importance of measurement research.

Instruments that can assist in the identification of maltreated children are particularly important because they allow the researcher to move away from relying solely on witness testimony (which may often involve only the victim and the offender). The concurrent validity of available measures with real-world abuse experiences is largely unknown. Instruments also need to integrate cultural factors that can affect responses to questions about physical punishment, family experiences, and so forth.

Research Infrastructure

Recommendation 8-8: Several multidisciplinary centers should be established to encourage the study of child maltreatment and to integrate research in the training of service providers. The purpose of these centers should be to assemble a corps of faculty and practitioners focused on selected aspects of child abuse and neglect, and to provide a critical mass in developing long-term research studies, evaluating major demonstration projects to build on and expand the existing base of empirical knowledge, and building a research-based curriculum for the law, medical, and social service schools.

The proposed centers should have a regional distribution, be associated with major academic centers, have the capacity to educate professionals of various disciplines, and launch major research efforts. Examples of the cancer and diabetes research centers funded by the National Institutes of Health could serve as models, or the Prevention Intervention Research Centers established by NIMH in 1983.

Recommendation 8-9: The level of financial support currently available for research on child maltreatment is poorly documented. The Congress should request that the General Accounting Office conduct a thorough review of all ongoing federally supported research on child abuse and neglect to identify and categorize research programs that are directly or indirectly relevant to this area, particularly if their primary goal is in support of a related objective, such as the reduction of family violence, injuries, infant mortality, and so forth.

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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Recommendation 8-10: Very small amounts of research funds are available for in-depth, prospective, long-term studies of child maltreatment. The research budgets for the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Justice as the primary funders of child maltreatment studies, should be reviewed to identify sources of support that might be pooled for longitudinal studies of interest to several agencies.

The role of the federal government in supporting research on child maltreatment should be to develop studies and information that can lead to improvements in the treatment and prevention of child abuse and neglect as well as extending the scientific understanding of the principles and factors that influence this behavior. A formula should be developed among these, and other, federal agencies to ensure that a designated portion of available federal research funding is directed toward collaborative long-term studies. The development of long-term, prospective studies will require greater attention to the need for central archiving systems and technical guides for data collection and storage to facilitate secondary use of large data sets. Agencies that have active research programs focused directly on child maltreatment studies should explore ways in which child maltreatment questions might be integrated into national research surveys and data collection efforts sponsored by other programs within their departments.

Recommendation 8-11: State agencies have an important role in developing and disseminating knowledge about factors that affect the identification, treatment, and prevention of child maltreatment. NCCAN should encourage the development of a state consortium that can serve as a documentation and research support center, allowing the states to collaborate in child maltreatment studies and facilitating the dissemination of significant research findings to state officials and service providers.

The empirical base of knowledge that guides state programs and practices in the area of child maltreatment needs national attention and sustained organization. The states need a consortium device to organize regional and national research seminars, foster collaborative research studies, and disseminate relevant research findings to a wide pool of personnel. An ongoing information service, such as the ''Research in Brief" program operated through the Department of Justice, would be an asset to the service providers within the states at this time.

Recommendation 8-12: As best as can be determined, the federal government currently spends about $15 million per year on research

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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directly related to child maltreatment. Recognizing that fiscal pressures and budgetary deficits diminish prospects for significant increases in research budgets generally, special efforts are required to develop new funds for research on child abuse and neglect. In addition, governmental leadership is required to identify and synthesize research from related fields that offers insights into the causes, consequences, treatment, and prevention of child maltreatment.

As a first step in expanding the research portfolio for child maltreatment studies, the panel recommends that the relevant research budgets of NCCAN, NIMH, NICHD, CDC, and DOJ be doubled over the next three years.

The contributing role of child maltreatment needs to be recognized by Congress in developing programs to address a wide range of social problems and family pathologies. Our country currently spends little on building the knowledge and resource base we need to treat and prevent incidents of child abuse and neglect, particularly in light of the enormous human, economic, and social costs associated with cases of violence involving a child. Second, the panel recommends that strong leadership is necessary, within Congress as well as a consortium of government agencies, private foundations, and research scientists, to convene a task force to identify ways in which research areas relevant to child maltreatment (such as substance abuse, family violence, child homicides, juvenile delinquency, and so forth) can be more systematically integrated into the research infrastructure for child abuse and neglect. Since child maltreatment is known to be a significant factor in the development of social disorders such as intentional injury, substance abuse, delinquency, and family violence, research on child abuse and neglect should be an integral part of the funding programs for each of these areas. The goal of the proposed task force should be the development of a formula whereby each agency sponsoring relevant research should be encouraged to allocate 10 percent of its funds to studies on basic and applied research studies on child maltreatment, administered through a consortium effort that would foster long-term studies and encourage the transfer of knowledge among these separate programs.

Recommendation 8-13: Effective incentives and dissemination systems should be developed to convey empirical findings to individuals who are authorized to make social welfare decisions on behalf of children. We need to strengthen the processes by which science is used to inform and advise legislative and judicial decision makers. And we need effective partnerships among scientists, practitioners, clinicians, and governmental officials to encourage the use of sound research results in formulating policies, programs, and services that affect the lives of thousands of children and their families.

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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Notes

1. These centers include the Crime Victims Research Center, University of South Carolina Medical Center; the Family Development Center, Boston Children's Hospital; the Family Violence Center, University of Texas at Tyler; the Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire; the Family Violence Research Program, University of Northern Illinois; the Henry Kempe National Center for the Treatment and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, University of Colorado; the Research Center, National Committee on the Prevention of Child Abuse, Chicago; the Ohio Research Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse, Columbus; the Child and Family Research Group, San Diego Children's Hospital; and the Child Abuse Training and Research section, Department of Pediatrics, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

2. An analysis of schools awarding Ph.D.s with child abuse dissertations indicates that the institutions that have awarded the largest numbers of Ph.D.s with dissertations in this field are professional schools that do not have research-intensive programs. In the period 1974-1991, the leading educators in this area, based on numbers of Ph.D. dissertations, were the California Schools of Professional Psychology (47) and the U.S. International University (8). In the same period of time, dissertations on child abuse were also awarded by the University of Maryland (10), Michigan State University (8), Florida State University (8), Memphis State University (7), the University of California at Berkeley (7), the University of Missouri (7), and the University of Pittsburgh (7). Six other educational institutions awarded 6 Ph.D. dissertations each; 11 institutions awarded 5 such dissertations; and at least 10 institutions awarded 4 or fewer such dissertations.

3. The ten universities were Indiana University, New York University, Ohio State University, Temple University, University of California at Los Angeles, University of California at San Diego, University of Michigan, University of Oklahoma, University of Pittsburgh, and University of South Carolina.

4. The National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, funded by NCCAN, is located in the Family Life Development Center at Cornell University. As of spring 1992, the archive had 11 data sets, including data from national studies on the incidence of child maltreatment, opinion surveys on the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse, national incidence studies on missing and runaway youth, and relationships between child maltreatment and subsequent criminal behavior or academic and social adjustment.

5. The National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect has developed a guide for the preparation of data sets for analysis and dissemination that seeks to facilitate the sharing of social science research data in this field.

6. An instrument was defined as a measurement that combines the values of three or more "items," observations," or "indicators" to gauge an underlying continuum that can only be partly measured by a single item. Measures used in child maltreatment research generally can be classified within three dimensions: the phenomenon measured, the type of data used, and the reliability and validity of the measure.

7. See NCCAN (1992) for addresses and phone numbers for NCCAN and the national clearinghouse and resource centers.

8. In addition, the National Science Foundation funds a range of methodological studies through its disciplinary research programs in sociology, psychology, and law and social sciences, that are relevant to child maltreatment studies.

9. In addition, three other federal departments (Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Transportation) provide training or other services or technical assistance in specific areas such as homelessness, Indian affairs, or family support programs.

10. See comments from the Department of Health and Human Services to the General Accounting Office (1992: Appendix IV).

Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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11. A more comprehensive review of all federal programs and activities relevant to child maltreatment is included in the NCCAN report (1992). Much of the detail describing federal programs included in this chapter is derived from this report.

12. P.L. 93-247

13. For an example of recent criticism of the NCCAN research program, see R. Gelles (1979).

14. 1992 Directory of Research Grants.

References

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Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect
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Suggested Citation:"8 HUMAN RESOURCES, INSTRUMENTATION, AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE." National Research Council. 1993. Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2117.
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Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect Get This Book
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The tragedy of child abuse and neglect is in the forefront of public attention. Yet, without a conceptual framework, research in this area has been highly fragmented. Understanding the broad dimensions of this crisis has suffered as a result.

This new volume provides a comprehensive, integrated, child-oriented research agenda for the nation. The committee presents an overview of three major areas:

oDefinitions and scope--exploring standardized classifications, analysis of incidence and prevalence trends, and more.

oEtiology, consequences, treatment, and prevention--analyzing relationships between cause and effect, reviewing prevention research with a unique systems approach, looking at short- and long-term consequences of abuse, and evaluating interventions.

oInfrastructure and ethics--including a review of current research efforts, ways to strengthen human resources and research tools, and guidance on sensitive ethical and legal issues.

This volume will be useful to organizations involved in research, social service agencies, child advocacy groups, and researchers.

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