What Can We Learn About the Others Present During Incidents of Child Abuse? Key Lessons and Future Directions Based on a Scoping Review

Bella Klebanov, Dafna Tener, Carmit Katz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Child abuse (CA) is a global problem that has received attention from policymakers, researchers, and practitioners. The majority of studies have focused on the phenomenon’s epidemiology and consequences, alongside groundbreaking writing on victims and perpetrators. The concept of others who are present during the abuse is understudied and underdeveloped, despite its vital importance in better understanding children’s experiences as well as their disclosure. The current study was designed to spotlight the phenomenon of others' presence, beyond the victims and perpetrators, during child abuse incidents. The current literature review was guided by a scoping review strategy. The results revealed scant empirical data, with only 15 studies meeting the inclusion criteria of the study. The articles that met the inclusion criteria addressed other people’s presence during CA incidents, were published in peer-reviewed journals, and were written in the English language. These articles’ analyses addressed the relations of the survivors with these others, pointing mainly to two identities: accidental bystanders who are not familiar with the child and family members of the child. The results provided a glance into the process that accidental bystanders go through during the abuse and the meaning of their presence for those who are family members. The perceptions and experiences of the children themselves with respect to the presence of the others during the abuse are noticeably lacking. The key conclusion from the current scoping review pinpoints the urgent need to advance the empirical knowledge on the presence of others during incidents of child abuse, especially others who are familiar to the children and are a significant part of their lives. The conceptualization of this phenomenon has the potential to better adapt prevention and intervention efforts in the field of child abuse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1078-1094
Number of pages17
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • accidental bystanders
  • child abuse
  • presence of others
  • scoping review
  • witnesses


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