Public perceptions of child abuse

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Robert T. Sigler
Ida M. Johnson


A longitudinal cross sectional 10 year study was conducted measuring public attitudes toward the definition and criminalization of physical child abuse, psychological child abuse, and child neglect. The study found that the public endorses a fairly broad liberal definition of child abuse and that this definition of child abuse is fairly stable over time. Subjects also strongly endorsed the creation of misdemeanor and felony statutes and strongly endorsed the use of prison to punish child abusers.

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