Child Abuse and Neglect: The Myth of Classlessness

Document Type



Increasingly, professional and public media are promulgating the belief that the problems of child abuse and neglect are broadly distributed throughout society, suggesting that their frequency and severity are unrelated to socioeconomic class. This paper argues that this belief is not supported by the evidence, and that its perpetuation serves to divert attention from the nature of the problems.


Child abuse; Child abuse--Prevention; Economics--Sociological aspects; Poverty


Social Policy | Social Work


Reported in Psychology Today Magazine, December, 1978.

Translated into German and reprinted in Familiendynamik, 1979, 4, 303-317.

Reprinted in J.V. Cook and R.T. Bowles (Eds.), Child Abuse: Commission and Omission. Toronto, Canada: Butterworths, 1980.

Reprinted in L.H. Pelton (Ed.), The Social Context of Child Abuse and Neglect. New York: Human Sciences Press, 1981, 1985.

Reprinted in S. Antler (Ed.), Child Abuse and Child Protection: Policy and Practice. Silver Spring, MD: National Association of Social Workers, 1982.

Reprinted in A.C. Donnelly and K. Oates (Eds.), Classic Papers in Child Abuse. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2000.

Publisher Citation

Pelton, L.H. (1978). Child abuse and neglect: The myth of classlessness. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 48, 608-617.

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