Parents’ and children’s perceptions of child maltreatment

Rachel Lev-Wiesel, Nadia Massrawa, Bussakorn Binson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Summary: Child maltreatment is under-reported despite its high prevalence. It ranges from one-third to one-half lifetime exposure to violence. This points out to the issue of laypersons’ perceptions of what is child maltreatment and at what severity should it be reported. The current study sought to examine children and youth versus parents’ perceptions of child maltreatment. Following ethical approval, 259 children and youth between the ages 9 and 14 and 229 parents were administered anonymous questionnaire that included demographics and The Perception of Child Maltreatment Severity Scale. Statistically significant differences between children and youth, and adults in perception of child maltreatment in general were observed. Findings: Results indicated that the groups differ in the severity attributed to emotional abuse and sexual abuse. In addition, unlike parents, children and youth perceived exposure of embarrassing photos via Internet and silent treatment by peers to be severe whereas parents perceived sexual molestation to be most severe behavior. Applications: The study findings were discussed in light of the cultural gap between children and parents. Practically, the gap between parents’ and children’s perceptions of child maltreatment indicates the need for parents and professionals to look beyond their own perceptions and be alert to experiences of victimization a young person may have. This might assist professionals in developing an intervention program to increase children’s awareness of violent behaviors and decrease the gap between generations in terms of the perceptions gap.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-410
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Emili Sagol Research Center for Creative Arts Therapies & the Sagol Lab for Children at Risk.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • Social work
  • abuse
  • child abuse
  • children
  • children and families
  • parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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