Children’s Responses to Maltreatment: Key Conclusions From a Systematic Literature Review

Carmit Katz*, Noga Tsur, Racheli Nicolet, Nir Carmel, Bella Klebanov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Child maltreatment (CM) has received much research attention in recent years, leading to the enormous development of services provided to children worldwide. However, although the literature in the field of trauma studies recognizes that responses to trauma are of central importance, for a variety of reasons, the research on this subject is sparse. The current systematic literature review was therefore designed to characterize and analyze the existing knowledge on children’s responses to CM, while putting in focus all possible responses that will appear in the identified manuscripts. Key databases were explored using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, and only six studies were identified as relevant to the focus of the current study. Utilizing thematic analysis, the results addressed four main themes: the studies’ methodologies, the terminology and responses that were explored in these studies, the abuse-related factors and contexts that were taken into account, and the consequences for the children (of their responses to the maltreatment). A key conclusion from this review is that concepts in this area, as well as theory, are considerably lacking. Promoting the development of theory regarding children’s responses to CM is urgently needed, as it will greatly impact clinical intervention, legal investigation, and the development of prevention programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1155-1168
Number of pages14
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • children
  • maltreatment
  • response


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