Specialists' Perception of the Harmful Consequences of Child-Abuse: A Phenomenological Study

Document Type : Original Article


1 PhD Student in Counseling, Department of Counseling, School of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran

2 BSc in Social Work, Social Work Department, School of Social Sciences, Allameh Tabatabai University, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: Child-abuse is one of the most common socio-psychological problems, and can contribute to the development of a set of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and peripheral harms in child and adolescent victims. This study aims at identifying the harmful consequences and harms of childabuse (child maltreatment) in child and adolescent victims from the perspective of specialists (counselors, psychologists, and social workers). Methods: This study was carried out using a qualitative and interpretive phenomenological approach. The research population included all specialists in the field of psychological and social health (counselors, psychologists, and social workers) in Isfahan and Tabriz Universities in 2018, who were experienced in research and treatment in child abuse. The participants were 9 specialists who were selected using purposive sampling. The data were collected through interviews with the participants. All the interviews were recorded and then transcribed line by line. The data extracted from the interviews were analyzed using the interpretive analysis approach proposed by Diekelmann, Allen, and Tanner. Results: The analysis of the data extracted from the interviews revealed five main themes (psychological, behavioral, interpersonal, family, and social harms) and 31 subthemes related to child-abuse harms and consequences from the perspective of the specialists. Conclusion: The insights from this study can be used to develop educational, preventive, and therapeutic programs aimed at reducing child abuse and its harmful effects.


  1. Atefi F, Adelinrasi H, Choupani M. Specialists' perception of the effective personality traits in the tendency of people to child abuse: a phenomenological study. Educational Psychology 2019; 15(51):1-25. doi: 10.22054/jep.2019.41227.2652. [In Persian].
  2. Habibi S, Goharimoghadam M. Prevention of child abuse and treatment. Journal of Psychology & Educational Sciences 2017; 3(2):95-105. [In Persian].
  3. Christian CW, Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, American Academy of Pediatrics. The evaluation of suspected child physical abuse. Pediatrics 2015; 135(5):e1337-54. doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-0356.
  4. World Health Organization. Child maltreatment. [cited 2020 Jun 12] Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/child-maltreatment.
  5. Moody G, Cannings-John R, Hood K, Kemp A, Robling M. Establishing the international prevalence of self-reported child maltreatment: a systematic review by maltreatment type and gender. BMC Public Health. 2018; 18(1):1164. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-6044-y.
  6. Gabrielli J, Jackson Y, Tunno AM, Hambrick EP. The blind men and the elephant: Identification of a latent maltreatment construct for youth in foster care. Child Abuse Negl 2017; 67:98-108. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.02.020.
  7. Blakemore T, Herbert JL, Arney F, Parkinson S. The impacts of institutional child sexual abuse: a rapid review of the evidence. Child Abuse Negl 2017; 74:35-48. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.08.006.
  8. Habibi S, Fallah Mh, Amopour M. Effectiveness of child abuse on the personality characteristics of children. Journal of Psychology & Educational Sciences 2017; 3(2):106-20. [In Persian]
  9. Debowska A, Willmott D, Boduszek D, Jones AD. What do we know about child abuse and neglect patterns of co-occurrence? A systematic review of profiling studies and recommendations for future research. Child Abuse Negl 2017; 70:100-11. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.06.014.

10. Hagborg JM, Berglund K, Fahlke C. Evidence for a relationship between child maltreatment & absenteeism among high-school students in Sweden. Child Abuse Negl 2018; 75: 41-4. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.08.027.

11. Jackson Y, Huffhines L, Stone KJ, Fleming K, Gabrielli J. Coping styles in youth exposed to maltreatment: Longitudinal patterns reported by youth in foster care. Child Abuse Negl 2017; 70:65-74. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.05.001.

12. Daneshmandi S, Izadikhah Z, Mehrabi HA. The structural model of relationship between child maltreatment, interpersonal skills and borderline personality traits in women population. Journal of Woman and Family Studies 2018; 6(2):5-24. [In Persian].

13. Klevens J, Barnett SB, Florence C, Moore D. Exploring policies for the reduction of child physical abuse and neglect. Child Abuse Negl 2015; 40:1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.07.013.

14. Rosado N, Ryznar E, Flaherty EG. Understanding hummers fractures in young children: abuse or not abuse? Child Abuse Negl 2017; 73:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu. 2017.09.013.

15. Prindle JJ, Hammond I, Putnam-Hornstein E. Prenatal substance exposure diagnosed at birth and infant involvement with child protective services. Child Abuse Negl 2018; 76:75-83. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.10.002.

16. Kepple NJ. Does parental substance use always engender risk for children? Comparing incidence rate ratios of abusive and neglectful behaviors across substance use behavior patterns. Child Abuse Negl 2018; 76:44-55. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.09.015.

17. Fry D, Fang X, Elliott S, Casey T, Zheng X, Li J, et al. The relationships between violence in childhood and educational outcomes: A global systematic review and meta-analysis. Child Abuse Negl 2018; 75: 6-28. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.06.021.

18. Cummings JA. Transformational change in parenting practices after child interpersonal trauma: A grounded theory examination of parental response. Child Abuse Negl 2018; 76:117-28. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.10.005.

19. McKelvey LM, Selig JP, Whiteside-Mansell L. Foundations for screening adverse childhood experiences: Exploring patterns of exposure through infancy and toddlerhood. Child Abuse Negl 2017; 70:112-21. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.

20. Patwardhan I, Hurley KD, Thompson RW, Mason WA, Ringle JL. Child maltreatment as a function of cumulative family risk: findings from the intensive family preservation program. Child Abuse Negl 2017; 70: 92-9. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.06.010.

21. van der Put CE, Assink M, Boekhout van Solinge NF. Predicting child maltreatment: a meta-analysis of the predictive validity of risk assessment instruments. Child Abuse Negl 2017; 73:71-88. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.09.016.

22. Fouché A, le Roux LM. Social workers’ views on pre-trial therapy in cases of child sexual abuse in South Africa. Child Abuse Negl 2018;76:23-33. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.09.008.

23. Pelton LH. The continuing role of material factors in child maltreatment and placement. Child Abuse Negl 2015; 41:30-9. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.08.001.

24. Dube SR, McGiboney GW. Education and learning in the context of childhood abuse, neglect and related stressor: The nexus of health and education. Child Abuse Negl 2018; 75:1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.09.029.

25. Palmer D, Feldman V. Toward a more comprehensive analysis of the role of organizational culture in child sexual abuse in institutional contexts. Child Abuse Negl 2017; 74:23-34. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.08.004.

26. Greger HK, Myhre AK, Klöckner CA, Jozefiak T. Childhood maltreatment, psychopathology & well-being: The mediator role of global self-esteem, attachment difficulties & substance use. Child Abuse Negl 2017; 70:122-33. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.06.012.

27. Nilsson D, Nordås E, Pribe G, Svedin CG. Child physical abuse – High school students’ mental health & parental relations depending on who perpetrated the abuse. Child Abuse Negl 2017; 70:28-38. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.05.007.

28. Lahtinen HM, Laitila A, Korkman J, Ellonen N. Children’s disclosures of sexual abuse in a population-based sample. Child Abuse Negl 2018; 76:84-94. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017. 10.011.

29. Sawrikar P, Katz I. Barriers to disclosing child sexual abuse (CSA) in ethnic minority communities: a review of the literature & implications for practice in Australia. Children and Youth Services Review 2017; 83(1):302-15. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.11.011.

30. Font SA, Cage J. Dimensions of physical punishment and their associations with children's cognitive performance and school adjustment. Child Abuse Negl 2018; 75:29-40. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.06.008.

31. Paine CW, Wood JN. Skeletal surveys in young, injured children: a systematic review. Child Abuse Negl 2018; 76:237-49. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.11.004.

32. Gall M, Borg W, Gall J. Quantitative & Qualitative Research Methods in Psychology. Translated by Nasr Esfahani. Tehran: SAMT; 2019. [In Persian].

33. Diekelmann N, Allen D, Tanner C. The NLN Criteria for Appraisal of Baccalaureate Programs: a Critical Hermeneutic Analysis. USA: National League for Nursing; 1989