The natural history of child abuse: A study in social problem definition

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Using a natural history model, this paper attempts to understand and explain why the problem of child abuse was recognized in Britain when it was and in the manner in which it was. It traces its development from the initial discovery in America. Particular emphasis is given to the work of the NSPCC battered child research unit, Sir Keith Joseph, the Tunbridge Wells Study Group and the media in contributing to the social reaction to the case of Maria Colwell, which established non-accidental injury as a major social problem in Britain. These developments have had implications for the changing role of the personal social services and may reflect broader changes in the control culture and the relationship between the state and the family.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-451
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1979


Dive into the research topics of 'The natural history of child abuse: A study in social problem definition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this