What do we know about child neglect? A critical review of the literature and its application to social work practice

Tanner, Karen and Turney, Danielle (2003). What do we know about child neglect? A critical review of the literature and its application to social work practice. Child and Family Social Work, 8(1) pp. 25–34.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2206.2003.00267.x

Abstract

Child neglect is a difficult and complex area of practice for social workers and other childcare professionals. To work effectively, practitioners need a good grasp of relevant literature and research – a point underlined by the moves to incorporate ‘research mindedness’ and ‘research literacy’ into social work education, training and practice. This paper aims to contribute to the debate around research literacy by looking in more detail at the research and knowledge base informing work with neglected children and their families, and considering the ways in which this can be applied in practice. In the first part of the paper, we provide a critical overview of the main aspects of research knowledge, summarizing ‘what we know’ currently about child neglect. Next, we look at some of the difficulties associated with this body of knowledge and at some of its limitations. Having noted these concerns, however, we go on to suggest ways in which the research evidence can be used in mainstream social work. We draw out some of the consequences for work with children and with their parents as well as considering the implications for social workers and their agencies.

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