Both the print and electronic media recently have highlighted the problems faced by severely abased and neglected children in America. Many suggestions have been offered for ameliorating the conditions leading to child abuse and neglect,but few hard data exist to tell us which social policies can be most effective in combatting these conditions. In this article, several sources of data are examined to estimate the incidence of abuse, its social and demographic features, and the nature of available child abuse case reports. Three potential social policies are analyzed in detail: national health screening, education in child rearing, and the development of profiles of abusing families with the hope of offering them preventive help. Each analysis has two underlying themes. First, even with incomplete data it is often possible to evaluate the probable effectiveness of a social policy before it is implemented. Second, data initially collected in a non-experimental setting ran still be used to suggest improvements in policy. The author concludes with a series of recommendations urging more systematic and carefully designed investigations of reporting systems and ameliorative efforts. Such investigations are necessary to enable firm inferences about the comparative effectiveness of different programs to reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect.

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