Repeat reports among cases reported for child neglect: A scoping review

Melissa Jonson-Reid, Chien Jen Chiang, Patricia Kohl, Brett Drake, Derek S. Brown, Shenyang Guo, Hyunil Kim, Timothy McBride

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: In the United States (US), child welfare policy prioritizes prevention of future harm (e.g., repeat reports) after a report of maltreatment. The majority of reports include some form of child neglect, but no prior review of the recurrence literature has focused on neglect. Objective: This review sought to help guide future research, policy and practice by summarizing recurrence findings related to child neglect with attention to the broader ecological context in which maltreatment occurs. Participants: The final review included 34 US studies of maltreatment recurrence. Twenty-eight studies compared child neglect with at least one other form of maltreatment and six studies examined recurrence among neglect cases. Methods: Eleven online databases were searched to locate relevant empirical studies. This review attended specifically to contextualizing findings according to other modifiable factors as well as methodological variation. A scoping review approach was used to summarize findings. Results: Of the 28 studies comparing neglect to other types of maltreatment, 14 found increased risk for neglect, 12 found no association, and two reported a lower risk. When significant, the effect size ranged from 10% to over three times higher risk for neglect. Poverty or material need was the most commonly included control (15 studies), with two thirds finding that lower resource families had higher risk. Conclusion: Methodological variability across studies confounds current ability to guide practice or policy. More research is needed that can replicate and extend findings with comparable samples and model specifications that take into account the regional and policy context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-65
Number of pages23
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • Child maltreatment
  • Neglect
  • Policy
  • Recurrence
  • Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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