Child Abuse Culture

By
Lisa Aronson Fontes, PhD

Course Description

This expertly written book provides an accessible framework for culturally competent practice with children and families in child maltreatment cases. Numerous workable strategies and concrete examples are presented to help readers address cultural concerns at each stage of assessment and intervention process. Professionals and students learn new ways of thinking about their own cultural viewpoints as they gain critical skills for maximizing the accuracy of assessments for physical and sexual abuse; overcoming language barriers in parent and child interviews; respecting families’ values and beliefs while ensuring children’s safety; creating a welcoming agency environment; and more.

About Authors

Lisa Aronson Fontes, PhD, is a Core Faculty Member in Union Institute & University’s PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology. She has dedicated almost two decades to making the social service, mental health, and criminal justice, and medical systems more responsive to culturally diverse people.


Learning Objectives

After completing this course you’ll be able to:

  1. Describe the circles of the ecosystem framework.
  2. Describe why ethnic cultures are not static.
  3. List medical conditions that lead to the assumption of abuse.
  4. Define stereotyping.
  5. Describe the language one speaks, according to Purcell-Gates (2002).
  6. Discuss child neglect and poverty, according to Charlow, 2001-2002.
  7. Define “child maltreatment.”
  8. Define “fictive kin.”
  9. Describe how to honor the hierarchy first.
  10. Define “ethnic lumping” according to the author.
  11. Define culture shock.
  12. Define individualist and collectivist.
  13. Discuss neglect issues that low-income immigrants may face.
  14. Discuss briefly the deviations from mainstream healthcare by various cultures.
  15. Discuss marriage by capture.
  16. Define immigrants, nonimmigrants, and naturalized citizens.
  17. Describe how professionals should handle concerns about truthfulness when dealing with immigrant families.
  18. Explain why professionals should be careful to avoid rushing immigrant clients.
  19. Describe the executive order signed by President Clinton on August 11, 2002.
  20. List several common questions to consider when assessing an at risk child.
  21. Discuss the findings of Charlow, 2001-2002; Roberts, 2002, regarding racial and economic bias of mandated reporters.
  22. Define child abuse and how it varies in different state statutes.
  23. Describe briefly some unfamiliar disciplinary methods and medical interventions.
  24. List reasons a newborn’s umbilical cord should have various substances applied.
  25. List several components of structured decision making according to the Children’s Research Center.(2003).
  26. State situations that complicate matters about possible maltreatment when interviewing the child.
  27. List gathering information techniques.
  28. List three reasons interviewers should explain the process of investigation.
  29. State ways professionals can gain trust from families.
  30. State the interviewers’ first purpose during questioning.
  31. Describe the research by Showers and Bandman, 1986, describing different instruments used to physically abuse children.
  32. Describe briefly the four options for conducting interviews with children whose native language is not English.
  33. State the most important attribute for an interviewer in a cross-cultural encounter.
  34. Discuss the findings of Connelly and Straus, 1992, regarding maltreatment by mothers and caretakers.
  35. Define corporal punishment according to Straus and Donnelly. (2001).
  36. Define physical abuse according to Straus and Donnelly. (2001).
  37. List several items families use to punish a child.
  38. Discuss the statement, “In the United States and Canada parents have the legal right to use corporal punishment with their children,”
  39. List several values that can be used to change parents’ use of corporal punishment.
  40. List four different kinds of parenting behavior that are effective against corporal punishment (Howard).
  41. Define shame.
  42. List some of the components of shame.
  43. Describe fate, regarding individual control and an external locus of control.
  44. Discuss the view that boys who have been sexually abused by men will become homosexuals. (Fontes, 1995a).
  45. Describe the reasons girls and women are more likely to suffer further assault following sexual abuse in childhood. (Grauerdolz, 2000).
  46. List benefits of high-quality interpreters.
  47. State why should children never interpret for other children.
  48. Define an aside.
  49. Describe actions of the interpreter during an interview.
  50. Compare simultaneous and consecutive interpreting.
  51. State why prevention programs work and the restrictions that often occur.
  52. Describe primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention.
  53. State where most sexual abuse prevention programs occur.
  54. Describe the two programs: culturally open and culture specific.
  55. State the most effective way to reduce abuse among those at the bottom of the social ladder.
  56. State why parenting classes are not necessarily the best referral.
  57. Describe monocultural organizations, nondiscriminatory organizations and multicultural organizations.
  58. List ways to assess community needs.

Course Contents

1. Multicultural Orientation to Child Maltreatment Work

  • Orienting Concepts
  • Ecosystemic Framework
  • Treating Clients Fairly
  • Poverty
  • Child Maltreatment
  • Working with Families
  • Research and Clinical Literature on Culture and Child Maltreatment
  • Concluding Thoughts: Remembering the Difficulty of the Material and Sacredness of our Work

2. Working with Immigrant Families

  • Social Stressors for Immigrant Families
  • Family Life, Child Behavior, and Discipline
  • Immigrants and the Child Welfare System
  • Domestic Violence
  • Basic U.S. Immigration Definitions
  • Suggestions for Improving Cultural Competence with Immigrants
  • Concluding Thoughts

3. Assessing Diverse Families for Child Maltreatment

  • What Constitutes a Suspicion, and What’s Culture Got to Do with It?
  • Is it Maltreatment? Is the Child at Risk?
  • Once Again: How Culture Matters
  • Assessment Instruments and Structured Decision Making
  • Concluding Thoughts

4. Interviewing Diverse Children and Families about Maltreatment

  • Before the Interview or First Session
  • Building Rapport and Establishing Trust
  • During the Interview
  • Closure and Preparation for the Next Steps
  • Concluding Thoughts

5. Physical Discipline and Abuse

  • Research on Group Differences
  • Corporal Punishment and Physical Abuse
  • Culture in Discipline and Abuse
  • Child-Raising Norms
  • Intervening with Families Who Use Harsh Corporal Punishment
  • Supporting Nonviolent Parenting
  • Prevention Programming
  • Concluding Thoughts

6. Child Sexual Abuse

  • Shame in Child Sexual Abuse
  • Cultural Aspects of Shame in Child Sexual Abuse
  • Counteracting Shame
  • Concluding Thoughts

7. Working with Interpreters in Child Maltreatment

  • When to Use an Interpreter
  • Finding an Interpreter
  • Informal Interpreters
  • Preparing Interpreters
  • Cultural Asides and Other Reasons to Pause and Interview
  • The Interpreter’s Role
  • The Interpreted Conversation
  • The Emotional Cost of Interpreting in Child Abuse Situations
  • Concluding Thoughts

8. Child Maltreatment Prevention and Parent Education

  • Child Maltreatment Prevention
  • The Parents’ Best Interests
  • Addressing Physical Abuse: Parent Groups and Classes
  • Concluding Thoughts

9. Improving the Cultural Competency of Your Child Maltreatment Agency or Organization

  • Why Should Agencies Change?
  • Concluding Thoughts

A Final Wish


Customer Comments

“Fontes’s writing is concise and to the point. She uses examples to illustrate major concepts and then describes practical steps agencies and individual workers can take to maximize their effectiveness. This book would serve as a great supplementary text for introductory child welfare classes at both the BA and MSW level.”

– Jeffrey L. Edleson, PhD, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota

“A pedagogical treasure…. I have employed many strategies suggested in Child Abuse and Culture in my child advocacy class and in practice, and have found that students, as well as myself, are now learning how to approach their clients’ cultural issues with more awareness, sensitivity, and respect.”

– Family Court Review

“Highly readable and instructive, this is an indispensable how-to guide for professionals and trainees in child protection services, hospitals, schools, and mental health programs. Fontes offers essential resources in the form of interviewing techniques and individual, group, and community approaches that are sensitive to ethnicity, race, social class, and gender.”

– Celia Jaes Falicov, PhD, past president, American Family Therapy Academy