Investigations May Not Lower Risk of Child Maltreatment

Visits from Child Protective Services do not appear to change modifiable risk factors

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The investigation of suspected child maltreatment by Child Protective Services does not appear to result in an improvement in modifiable risk factors for child maltreatment, according to research published in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Kristine A. Campbell, M.D., of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and colleagues analyzed data on 595 children whose maternal caregiver responded to an abuse/neglect survey when the child was 4 and 8 years of age. The objective was to determine what effect a Child Protective Services investigation for suspected child maltreatment had on later improvements in household, caregiver, and child risk factors.

The researchers found that, at age 8, no perceptible differences were found between the 164 subjects investigated for maltreatment and the non-investigated subjects in terms of modifiable risk factors (social support, family functioning, poverty, maternal education, or child behavior problems). However, mothers of investigated subjects showed more depressive symptoms than mothers of non-investigated subjects when their child was 8 years old.

"Our finding that an investigation for suspected child maltreatment is not associated with relative improvements in common, modifiable risk factors suggests that we may be missing an opportunity for secondary prevention of maltreatment and maltreatment consequences," the authors write.

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