Child abuse and neglect (CAN) continues to be a serious public health problem in the United States, affecting approximately 19% of victims and costing approximately $124 billion to society. When a child is removed from their parent’s custody due to parental abuse or neglect, the child is sometimes placed in temporary custody through dependency court. Difficult and emotionally laden legal decisions occur within dependency court, including determining whether (and where) a child should be temporarily placed or whether a child should be returned to the parent’s custody. Over 6 million children experienced some type of child maltreatment in 2013, with 144,000 receiving foster care services (Child Maltreatment, 2013). Legal decision-makers, including caseworkers, judges, and social workers have the important task of determining what placement is in the best interest of the child. What factors shape decisions in child custodial cases?
Chapter 1 of this ebook, Child Abuse and Neglect: Perceptions, Psychological Consequences and Coping Strategies (PDF) reviews empirical evidence suggesting that the race of the child and parent plays a role in shaping child custodial decisions. Chapter 2 presents a feminist, social constructionist theoretical conceptualization, entitled relational trust theory, that describes the effects of gendered power dynamics on the perception of the other partner as trustworthy in adult-survivor couple interactions; and expounds on the findings of a longitudinal grounded theory study that identified clinical processes of Socio-Emotional Relationship Therapy (SERT) that helped adult-survivor couples transform their gendered power disparities and engage in relationally safe ways that supported a trusting emotional culture. Chapter 3 provides a description of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), a rationale for its use with parents and children who have experienced CAN, and an overview of PCIT’s evidence base for both intervening with and preventing future CAN.