Topic: Interventions for Abusive Behavior

Scientific Ratings in this topic:

1 - Well-Supported by Research Evidence

2 - Supported by Research Evidence

3 - Promising Research Evidence

4 - Evidence Fails to Demonstrate Effect

5 - Concerning Practice

NR - Not able to be Rated

Learn more about the scale

Definition for Interventions for Abusive Behavior:

Interventions for Abusive Behavior are defined by the CEBC as programs that address a parent’s or caregiver’s abusive treatment of a child or adolescent. The abusive behavior may be one or more of the following types as defined by the CEBC for this topic area:

  • Physical abuse: Nonaccidental physical injury (ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death) as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other object), burning, or otherwise harming a child or adolescent
  • Sexual abuse: Activities perpetrated on a child or adolescent such as fondling his/her genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials
  • Emotional /Psychological abuse: A pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s or adolescent’s emotional development or sense of self-worth, such as constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance
This topic area is focused on interventions to stop the abusive behavior and prevent re-abuse. Several related topic areas have been reviewed by the CEBC, such as Anger Management Treatment (Adult) and Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence: Batterer Intervention Programs. Programs in these areas will not be listed in this topic area unless they meet the criteria below. Interventions designed solely to address the needs of abused children are not covered in this topic area; these interventions may be found in the Trauma Treatment (Child & Adolescent) topic area.

The following link gives more information on this topic area as it is defined by the U.S. government: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/can/defining/federal/
  • Target population: Abusive parents or caregivers
  • Services/types that fit: Typically outpatient services with individual, group, or family formats; services may be delivered in the home and may include assessment, case planning, mental health services, case management, education, and/or skill building
  • Delivered by: Child welfare staff, mental health professionals, or trained paraprofessionals
  • In order to be included: Program must specifically target stopping child or adolescent abuse and preventing recurrence as a measurable goal
  • In order to be rated: There must be research evidence (as specified by Scientific Rating Scale) that examines abuse-related outcomes such as reductions of recurrence of maltreatment or outcomes for parents or caregivers such as changes in abusive behavior and related parenting practices (e.g., harsh parenting).

Why was Interventions for Abusive Behavior chosen as a topic by the Advisory Committee? (Click for Answer)

The Interventions for Abusive Behaviors topic area is relevant to child welfare because intervening with child abuse is one of the central functions of the child welfare system. Child welfare professionals need help identifying effective interventions that stop the abusive behavior by adults and prevent re-abuse. Interventions included in this topic area aim to minimize the risk that could lead to future child abuse, equip families with the skills and resources they need to ensure that children are safe in the home, and decrease the effects of abuse on children of all ages.

Programs in this Topic Area

The programs listed below have been reviewed by the CEBC and, if appropriate, been rated using the Scientific Rating Scale.

Programs with a Scientific Rating of 1 - Well-Supported by Research Evidence:

Programs with a Scientific Rating of 2 - Supported by Research Evidence:

  • Multisystemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect (MST-CAN)detailed view
    Topics: Interventions for Abusive Behavior
    Families who have come to the attention of Child Protective Services within the past 180 days due to the physical abuse ...
  • SafeCare®detailed view
    [Project SafeCare]
    Topics: Interventions for Neglect, Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (Secondary) Programs, Parent Training Programs that Address Child Abuse and Neglect, Home Visiting Programs for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, Interventions for Abusive Behavior
    Parents at-risk for child neglect and/or abuse and parents with a history of child neglect and/or abuse

Programs with a Scientific Rating of 3 - Promising Research Evidence:

  • Alternatives for Families: A Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (AF-CBT)detailed view
    [Abuse-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy]
    Topics: Interventions for Abusive Behavior, Trauma Treatment - Client-Level Interventions (Child & Adolescent)
    Caregivers who are emotionally or physically aggressive or abusive with their children, children who experience behavioral dysfunction, especially aggression, or ...
  • Combined Parent-Child Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CPC-CBT)detailed view
    Topics: Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (Secondary) Programs, Parent Training Programs that Address Child Abuse and Neglect, Interventions for Abusive Behavior, Trauma Treatment - Client-Level Interventions (Child & Adolescent)
    Children ages 3-17 and their parents (or caregivers) in families where parents engage in a continuum of coercive parenting strategies ...
  • Nurturing Parenting Program for Parents and their School-age Children 5 to 12 Yearsdetailed view
    Topics: Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (Secondary) Programs, Parent Training Programs that Address Child Abuse and Neglect, Interventions for Abusive Behavior
    Families who have been reported to the child welfare system for child maltreatment including physical and emotional maltreatment in addition ...
  • Parents Anonymous®detailed view
    Topics: Parent Partner Programs for Families Involved in the Child Welfare System, Interventions for Abusive Behavior
    Parents, grandparents, relative and kin providers, foster parents, or anyone serving in a caregiver role and children and youth of ...

Programs with a Scientific Rating of NR - Not able to be Rated: