The complexity of child protection recurrence: The case for a systems approach
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Objective: Research on child protection recurrence has found consistent child, family, and case characteristics associated with repeated involvement with the child protection system. Despite the considerable body of empirical research, knowledge about why recurrence occurs, and what can be done to reduce it, is limited. Method: This paper reviews the empirical literature and analyses the approaches of prior recurrence research. Four related conceptual challenges are identified: (1) a tendency to conflate child protection recurrence with repeated child maltreatment; (2) uncertainty about how best to operationalize and measure child protection recurrence in research; (3) inconsistency between prevailing explanations for the most frequently observed patterns of recurrence; and (4) difficulty in developing coherent strategies to address child protection recurrence based on research. Results: Addressing these challenges requires a greater consideration of the effects of decision-making in the child protection system on recurrence. This paper proposes a methodology based in systems theory and drawing on existing administrative data to examine the characteristics of the child protection system that may also produce recurrence.
Child Abuse & Neglect
Criminology not elsewhere classified