Developmental Differential Impact of Child Maltreatment: The Practitioner's Perspective

Karla Shockley McCarthy, Susan Yoon, Fei Pei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Although the negative impact of child maltreatment on child development is well-established in the literature, little research has explored potential developmental differences in the impact of child maltreatment on child outcomes. The primary aim of this qualitative study was to explore the impact of child maltreatment from the perspective of practitioners who serve maltreated children, including variation in impact and manifestation due to the developmental stage of the child. In this study, 27 in-depth interviews were conducted with practitioners who directly serve maltreated children in an urban Midwestern city in the United States. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data. The four themes of developmental differential on the impact of maltreatment included (1) impact manifestation; (2) behavioral expression; (3) locus of control; and, (4) complexity. The findings from this study offer valuable insight to inform developmentally-appropriate interventions for children who have experienced child maltreatment. Our discoveries encourage agencies and those working with maltreated children to consider the child's developmental level to acknowledge how the child will process and react to the maltreatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-324
Number of pages16
JournalChild and Adolescent Social Work Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Child maltreatment
  • Children
  • Developmental impact
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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