A review of the relationship between poverty and child abuse and neglect: Insights from scoping reviews, systematic reviews and meta-analyses

Guy Skinner, Paul Bywaters, Eilis Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

An up-to-date and accurate picture of the evidence on the impact of poverty is a necessary element of the debate about the future direction of children's social care services internationally. The purpose of this paper is to update evidence about the relationship between poverty and child abuse and neglect (CAN) published since a previous report in 2016 (Bywaters et al., 2016). A systematic search was conducted, identifying seven reviews. Poverty was found to be consistently and strongly associated with maltreatment, be that in terms of familial or community-level poverty, or in terms of economic security. Findings demonstrated that both the type and the quantity of economic insecurities impacted child maltreatment. Certain economic insecurities – income losses, cumulative material hardship and housing hardship – reliably predicted future child maltreatment. Likewise, as families experienced more material hardship, the risk for maltreatment intensified. In some studies, the relationship between poverty and maltreatment differed by abuse type. Future reviews need to investigate individual papers and their findings across different CAN measures, definitions, samples, abuse types and conceptualisations of poverty to provide a comprehensive understanding of the current research base and the directions which need to be taken to further understand and prevent CAN.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalChild Abuse Review
Early online date2 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Nov 2022

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