Interdisciplinary Contributions to the Prevention of Child Maltreatment

By Lucien Lombardo and Karen A. Polonko.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

Interdisciplinarity at its core involves epistemologically reconceptualizing a problem and challenging discipline/s within which the problem is embedded. This paper attempts to show how research on child maltreatment within disciplines can be integrated within the context of new paradigm that epistemologically challenges the prevailing traditional paradigm within individual disciplines and reconceptualizes the problem of child maltreatment, leading to new insights on child maltreatment and how to prevent it.
To do so, we draw on a newly emerging model of children and child-adult relationships, adultism (child-centered, child rights) conceptualizing research and policy within the context of the social inequality and the oppression of children, where children are denied human rights and are disproportionately victims of maltreatment and exploitation. This stands in contrast to the degree to which individual disciplines within the social sciences, physical sciences, medical fields, and applied sciences and professions are steeped epistemologically in adult-centered (colonial, parent rights) perspectives which conceptualizes children within the context of adult agendas of obedience and inferiority, at best a paternalistic view of child-caring vs. child rights.
In turn, this allows us to see how much of the prior research (or lack of) and policy of different disciplines has supported the maintenance of the oppression of children most generally and child maltreatment specifically. In contrast, the new model of children and child-adult relationships, adultism, allows us, in a truly interdisciplinary way, to epistemologically reconceptualize violence against children and challenge the assumptions about children embedded in individual disciplines. This leads to an unmasking of the oppression of children, violence against children and thereby holds the hope for policies to prevent it.

Keywords: Child Welfare, Child Maltreatment, Children’s Rights, Child Caring, Child Abuse, Child Welfare Pedagogy, Child Abuse Prevention, Adultism, Human Rights, Interdisciplinary, UN Convention on the Rights of Children

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 12, pp.89-112. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.758MB).

Dr. Lucien Lombardo

Professor, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, USA

Dr. Lucien Lombardo received his PhD in Criminal Justice from SUNY, Albany. He has taught “Understanding Violence: From Suicide to Genocide” and “Violence in the World of Children: From Corporal Punishment to War”. He has written extensively on prisons, violence, children’s rights and interdisciplinary education. He is co-editor with Dr. Karen A. Polonko of “Children and Young People in a Changing World”, Special Edition of Global Bioethics, Vol. 18. Winter 2005. He has served as coordinator of Interdisciplinary Programs and has been actively involved in interdisciplinary curriculum development. He has been at Old Dominion University since 1977.

Karen A. Polonko

University Professor, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, USA

Dr. Karen A. Polonko is Professor of Sociology and University Professor at Old Dominion University. She received her PhD in Sociology from Indiana University. She has taught courses on the sociology of children, marriage and families, child welfare and violence against children globally. She is coauthor of the book “The Sexual Bond” and has published widely in the areas of families and children. She is co-author of “Children and Young People in a Changing World”, Special Edition of Global Bioethics, Vol. 18. Winter 2005. Current interests include research on violence against children globally, assessment of implementation of the UN CRC, and the long-term consequences of corporal punishment on children.

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