• April 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 4

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Longitudinal Findings on Child Abuse and Neglect

In 1990, the Children's Bureau began funding what would become one of the longest and most comprehensive studies of child abuse and neglect: LONGSCAN (Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect). For 20 years, researchers in five sites around the country followed more than 900 children from age 4 into adulthood, using a variety of research methods, including interviews with children, parent reports and observations, teacher reports, and maltreatment data from a variety of sources. More than 130 publications and 25 doctoral dissertations were based on LONGSCAN research. And to ensure that the research results extended beyond academia, the Doris Duke Foundation provided funding for LONGSCAN findings to be made more accessible to practitioners in the field through a "Science to Practice" initiative.

LONGSCAN investigators recently synthesized their overall findings and met with stakeholders around the country to discuss the results and their implications. Ensuring Safety, Well-Being and Permanency for Our Children: Findings, Practice and Policy Implications From LONGSCAN: The 20-Year Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect summarizes this work. The short publication uses succinct text and tables to reduce the many years of research into 12 sets of findings and implications under the categories of safety and health, permanency, and well-being:

  • Safety and health
    • Identification of children at risk
    • Impact of witnessing violence
    • Multiple exposures
    • Neglect
    • Psychological maltreatment
    • Suicide
  • Permanency
    • Instability in permanent placements
    • Safety in permanent placements
    • Multiple forms of instability
  • Well-being
    • Role of the father
    • Social support
    • Public health approach

The implications in each area offer specific recommendations for the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. These recommendations range from focused training to changes in policy to broader assessments and more.

The authors note that researchers will continue to follow the young adults who have been part of LONGSCAN for more than 20 years, through funding from the National Institutes of Health.

To learn more about LONGSCAN,

  • Visit the website on the University of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center: http://www.unc.edu/depts/sph/longscan 
  • Read Ensuring Safety, Well-Being and Permanency for Our Children: Findings, Practice and Policy Implications From LONGSCAN: The 20-Year Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect:
    http://iprc.unc.edu/files/2014/02/LONGSCAN-Science-to-Practice.pdf (818 KB)

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