Bibliography: Constantino, J.N. Child Maltreatment Prevention and the Scope of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 2015. In Press.
Child maltreatment is one of the most deleterious known influences on the mental health and development of children. A review of the risk variables associated with child maltreatment shows that the parents and caregivers of children at risk for maltreatment are themselves victims. Their needs for support programs are often easily ascertained in the early days of their children’s lives, before catastrophic incidents of child maltreatment have occurred. Without these supports, child maltreatment continues to be the largest preventable causal influence on child mental disorder in the United States. It is incumbent on child and adolescent psychiatrists to know and ascertain the warning signs among the families of their patients, to recognize and exhaustively pursue opportunities for preventive intervention. For those children whose development is potentially compromised by the risk of child maltreatment, it is important that efforts to minimize such risk is sustained, comprehensive, and organized around the needs of individual families, not bureaucracies. In a next phase of development in this field, concerted efforts to learn which interventions work, when in the child’s development, targeted toward whom, sustained at what dosage, and for what duration, will bring about cost-effective reductions in the incidence of child maltreatment and consequent improvement in major public mental health outcomes.