Discussion Questions

  • 1. What techniques have been used to measure the extent of child abuse in the United States? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each technique.
  • 2. Are poor people more likely to abuse their children, to be correctly or incorrectly labeled “child abusers,” or both?
  • 3. What are the implications for clinicians, who must diagnose and treat child abuse, of the conclusion that there are multiple factors associated with the abuse of children?

Suggested Assignments

  • 1. Observe how parents discipline children in a public place. Develop a “coding” form by which you can keep track of how frequently parents use physical punishment to discipline their children. Try to observe in different locations and see whether the setting, situation, and social class of the parents influence their public behavior.
  • 2. Contact your local child welfare agency (state, city, or local). Ask for the official tally of child abuse reports for the last ten or even twenty years. See whether you can see any trends in the changes.
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