There are few research reports of the experience of multiple forms of child abuse and neglect (multi-type maltreatment). A critical review is presented of 29 studies in which adult retrospective reports of more than one form of child maltreatment (sexual abuse, physical abuse, psychological maltreatment, neglect, or witnessing family violence) are assessed. Empirical investigations of the extent and impact of multi-type maltreatment are identified. Data on the relationship between the different forms of maltreatment and the adjustment problems associated with each type of maltreatment are critiqued. As well as using dichotomous measures of maltreatment, an important methodological problem was the failure of researchers to assess all child maltreatment types, the relationship between multi-type maltreatment and adjustment, and the role of variables influencing the occurrence or impact of maltreatment. Considerable overlap was found in the occurrence of maltreatment types. The compounding or interacting effects of experiencing multi-type maltreatment were ignored in many studies. Where an assessment was made of the specific impact of multi-type maltreatment, it was associated with greater impairment than single forms of abuse or neglect. A multi-dimensional approach to prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect is required in which children's vulnerability to multi-type maltreatment is addressed.
Available online 21 November 2001.
Field of Research
170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology