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Research suggests factors for preventing child abuse

Arthur ReynoldsProfessor Arthur Reynolds's research is having a significant impact on the development of programs for preventing child abuse, according to a recent story in Miller-McCune, a national online magazine that focuses on current academic research applied to pressing social concerns. The story, "A Cure for Child Abuse," describes how the Center for Study of Social Policy is using the work of Reynolds and others to investigate the roots of child abuse and help families build "protective factors" for prevention.

The ground-breaking research by Reynolds, from the Institute of Child Development, involves his longitudinal study for 30 years of children enrolled in the Chicago Child-Parent Centers, an innovative public school program for low-income children and their parents. In tracking the long-term effects of the program on the children's later academic success and adult outcomes, Reynolds has discovered that for every dollar invested in the program, more than seven dollars of economic return for society has resulted from reduced dropout rates, fewer special education needs, less strain on the juvenile justice system, and increased earnings capacity. But his study also discovered a 51 percent reduction in the rate of substantiated child abuse among participants, compared to a similar group not in the program.

"We weren't expecting originally that there would be big effects on the reduction of child maltreatment, but I guess it's not that surprising," says Reynolds in the article. He goes on to suggest that heavy parent involvement and the program's emphasis on developing a support network likely contributed to this positive outcome.

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