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Neuroscience and the risks of maltreatment

Munro, Eileen and Musholt, Kristina (2014) Neuroscience and the risks of maltreatment. Children and Youth Services Review, 47 (1). pp. 18-26. ISSN 0190-7409

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2013.11.002


Findings from neuroimaging are increasingly being cited in policy debates to strengthen the case for early identification of, and intervention with, children at risk of maltreatment and poor outcomes. While agreeing that neuroscientific research into the risks of maltreatment is a very valuable and exciting area of study, this article challenges the confidence with which these findings are used in policy discussions. It critically discusses the reliability and validity of the relevant findings and the contribution they can currently make to our understanding of the causes and consequences of maltreatment. In addition, it is argued that this type of evidence, which is new in policy debates, is often being used in ways that are problematic. Many participants in the relevant policy debates seem to subscribe either to an implicit version of dualism about the relationship between the mind and the body, or to reductionism - the view that the mental can be reduced to the physical. Such assumptions threaten the way we think about human agency and moral responsibility but it is argued that they are misguided for conceptual reasons. It is concluded that neuroscience has the potential to contribute to our understanding of the causes and effects of maltreatment but cannot do so in isolation from the social sciences.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 Elsevier Ltd
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2014 09:38
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2024 22:33

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