Child Abuse and Neglect Children in Court


The article that a reaction paper is written on is one written by Block et al on the subject of Child Abuse and Neglect titled “Abused and neglected children in court: knowledge and attitudes” (Block, Oran H., Oran D,, Baumrind and Goodman, 2010).

This is an important research area given that 10% of all emergency related cases among children in hospitals are as a result of abuse according to a research study by Johnson (Johnson, nd). The objective of this paper was to determine the level of knowledge and nature of attitudes among maltreated children who appeared in court during their detention case hearings (Block et al, 2010).

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In order to obtain a high respondent rate the researcher picked a state jurisdiction which had high rate of maltreated minors attending their custodial case hearings. The researchers also sought to determine what factors determines the nature of the children’s attitudes or their level of knowledge as well as how the minors felt about their level of participation during the court proceedings (Block et al, 2010).

This research article attempted to investigate several issues by investigating key theories on the subject of child abuse and neglect. The central theories that are being investigated in this research article are whether greater participation by minors during their case proceedings in dependency courts influences its outcome (Block et al, 2010).

Other key theories that are being tested in the research study are the association between knowledge and attitude and their influence on the legal outcome (Block et al, 2010). Lastly the research study also attempted to identify the range of factors that determines the outcome of knowledge and attitude variables (Block et al, 2010).


This being a qualitative research the research design used in the study was survey through subject interviews. A total of 85 subjects were selected to participate in this study; these were children aged between 7 and 10 years (Block et al, 2010). However, at this point I fault the selection of cases since no sampling method of cases appears to have been applied during this study.

In the absence of a sampling method it is therefore safe to assume that an element of bias might have been introduced during the selection of cases from the study population. Nevertheless, the selected cases were as diverse as possible based on their cultural backgrounds, age and nature of their abuse cases who were made up of Asians, Hispanics, African Americans and Caucasians (Block et al, 2010).

The research also controlled for other types of biases by tightly controlling the characteristics of the subjects by ensuring that they were as varied as possible in terms of age, number of court appearances, presence of legal counsels and nature of homes that they resided at the time of the research study (Block et al, 2010).

Immediately after the child has attended their case hearings three types of standardized questionnaires were used to debrief the subjects for approximately 1 hour; Children’s Court Questionnaire, Demographic Information Form and State Anxiety Inventory for Children (STAI-C) (Block et al, 2010). The Children’s Court Questionnaire was the most detailed and was used to assess the subject on the four areas of interest; court knowledge, attitude, perception and general experience (Block et al, 2010).

The Demographic Information file was used to collect data pertaining the legal case and it outcome while the STAI-C form was used to compare the subjects’ level of anxiety (Block et al, 2010). Once the interview was concluded the data was coded to enable the necessary statistical analysis to be performed.


In summary the statistical analysis of the data collected indicated the following key findings. One, age was highly correlated with level of knowledge of the subject concerning the case proceedings; the highest score on level of knowledge occurred among the 12 year olds. Another association was identified between culture and attitude; overall the research study found that “minority children held more positive attitudes than Caucasians toward dependency court” (Block et al, 2010).

The research study also identified an association between anxiety, age and ethnicity; the data analysis indicated that older subjects were generally more anxious than younger respondents while minority children’s were less anxious than their counterparts (Block et al, 2010).


The results of the study concluded that increased access to legal information by the subjects does not necessarily translate to increased level of knowledge; a theory that is supported by many other research studies on the subject. Based on the evidence from data analysis this research also indicates and recommends fostering of knowledge among children on how dependency court operates since it can benefit the minors in more than one way.

Finally, the research study advocates and supports participation of minors in court hearings given that majority of children interviewed indicated that they would have preferred an opportunity to be heard by the judge and therefore contribute to the final decision.


Block, S., Oran, H., Oran, D., Baumrind, N. & Goodman, G. (2010). Child Abuse and Neglect: Abused and Neglected Children in Court: Knowledge and Attitudes. Child Abuse and Neglect, 34(1): 659-670.

Johnson, Charles. (nd). Physical Abuse: Accidental versus Intentional Trauma in Children. Medical Aspects, 1(1): 249-264.


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