n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - Familial substance abuse and child maltreatment : the need for a contextually relevant and systematic exploration of the problem in the South African context : focus on familial substance abuse




Ovens (this issue) reviews the theoretical and empirical literature on the relationship between parental substance abuse and child maltreatment and concludes that further research on the topic is strongly indicated and that such research could usefully be extended to include prenatal abuse by mothers who abuse psychoactive substances during pregnancy. However, in this paper it is argued that if we are to ensure that such research extends our understanding of the problem in a way that is likely to have relevance to the contemporary South African context, we need to do more. For a start, we need to carefully re-examine how the word 'family' has been defined in previous research, and carefully evaluate the relevance of such definitions for the contemporary South African context. In addition to considerations relating to contextual relevance, South African researchers would also benefit from attempts to adopt more sophisticated research designs in order to more precisely delineate the relationship between substance abuse and child maltreatment.


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