Journal of Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences


Child maltreatment is a historical and current problem in the United States. Children are exposed to physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse in alarming numbers. In 2014, state agencies found an estimated 702,000 victims of child maltreatment. With two thirds of this group representing child neglect victims, research studies and effective interventions are needed for this group in particular. This study examined the relational nature of child neglect versus child physical abuse. The sample population consisted of 68 girls aged 12 years old at the Midwest site of the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect research project. The secondary analysis was completed with descriptive, correlational, and multiple regression analyses. The results of the analysis revealed the mother–child relationship was significantly related to the presence of neglect and was significantly related to the presence of physical abuse. Peer relationships were not found to be significantly related to the presence of neglect or physical abuse. In the multiple-regression analysis, child neglect versus child physical abuse was more predictive of a negative mother–child relationship. Of note, the outcomes of the study lead to a better understanding of the need for relational interventions in treating victims of child abuse and neglect, as well as the relational nature of abuse and neglect demand interventions that focus on the victim and the caregiver/perpetrator. Such interventions can only result in socially and emotionally connected individuals, improving the functioning of the adolescent and the future adult.