Emily M. Douglas, Ph.D.


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Fatal Child Maltreatment

Fatal child maltreatment is one of my major areas of study. I have examined trends, changes in policy, state-level correlates, child fatality review teams, national datasets, and the intersection of child welfare professionals with maltreatment fatalities.  I also worked for a child fatality review team, which is what prompted my interest in this subject area.

In 2010-2011 I conducted a study about the knowledge, practice concerns, experiences with, and mental health conditions associated with fatal child maltreatment among 400+ U.S. child welfare workers. Five academic papers resulted from this project; four have been published in academic journals and one is in press.  I have also given many presentations based on these results and my research assistants have written fact sheets about the study. Links to presentations, factsheets, and my other work on fatal child maltreatment are provided below. 

I am writing a book on fatal maltreatment, which will likely be released in 2015. I am interested in hearing about new approaches to tackling fatal maltreatment. If you know of any, please contact me. I would love to hear from you!

You can also add your name to a contact list if you are interested in being kept up to date about the study findings or my continuing work on fatal child maltreatment. Click here to do so. Thank you for your interest!


(Electronic copy of article provided upon request. Please email me.)

Douglas, E.M. (Provisionally Accepted). A Comparison of Child Fatalities by Physical Abuse Versus Neglect: Child, Family, Service and Worker Characteristics, Journal of Social Service Review.

Douglas, E.M. & Vanderminden, J. (In Press). A Longitudinal, Multilevel Analysis of Homicide Against Children Ages 0-9 Using State-Level Characteristics: 1979-2007. Violence & Victims

Douglas, E.M. & Serino, P. (2013). The extent of evidence-based information about child maltreatment fatalities in social science textbooks. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work.

Douglas, E. M. (2013). Case, Service and Family Characteristics of Households that Experience a Child Maltreatment Fatality in the United States. Child Abuse Review, doi: 10.1002/car.2236

Douglas, E. M. (2012). Child Welfare Workers' Training, Knowledge, and Practice Concerns Regarding Child Maltreatment Fatalities: An Exploratory, Multi-State Analysis. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 6(5), 659-677. doi: 10.1080/15548732.2012.723975

Douglas, E. M. (2012). Child Welfare Workers Who Experience the Death of a Child Client. Administration in Social Work, 37(1), 59-72. doi: 10.1080/03643107.2012.654903

 Douglas, E. M. (2013). Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress among Child Welfare Workers Who Experience a Maltreatment Fatality on their Caseload. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 10(4), 373-387. doi: 10.1080/15433714.2012.664058

Douglas, E. M., & McCarthy, S. C. (2011). Child fatality review teams: A content analysis of social policy. Child Welfare, 90(3), 91-110.

Douglas, E.M. & McCarthy, S.C. (2011). Child maltreatment fatalities: Predictors of rates and the efficacy of child welfare policy. Journal of Policy Practice 10(2), 128-143.

Douglas, E.M. (2009). Media coverage of agency-related child maltreatment fatalities: Does it result in state legislative change intended to prevent future fatalities? Journal of Policy Practice, 8 (3), 224-239.

Douglas, E.M. & Cunningham, J.M. (2008). Recommendations from child fatality review teams: Results of a U.S. Nationwide Exploratory Study Concerning Maltreatment Fatalities. Child Abuse Review, 17(5), 331-351.

Douglas, E.M. (2005). Child maltreatment fatalities: What do we know, what have we done and where do we go from here?  In K.Kendall-Tackett & S. Giacomoni (Eds.) Victimization of children and youth: Patterns of abuse, response strategies. New York: Civic Research Institute, pp. 4-1 to 4-18.


Conference Presentations

· The Problem of False Negatives: Unsubstantiated Cases that Result in Fatal Maltreatment, Presented at the annual conference of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, Las Vegas, June, 2013

· Homicide Against U.S. Children, Ages 0-9, 1979-2009: Changing Rates or Support for Improved Diagnostic Accuracy?, Presented at the International Family Violence and Child Victimization Conference, Portsmouth, NH, July 2012

· Child Welfare Workers Who Experience the Death of a Child Client, Presented at the 20th Annual Colloquium of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, Chicago, June 2012

· Crisis or Crossroads: Child Welfare Professionals and Child Maltreatment Fatalities, Presented at the 18th National Conference on Child Abuse & Neglect, Washington, DC, April 2012

· Preparing for, responding to, and experiencing a fatal child maltreatment: Research on child welfare professionals, Presented as a colloquium for the Center for the Advancement of Research & Teaching, Bridgewater State University, November 2011

· What child welfare workers know about child maltreatment fatalities, Presented at One Child, Many Hands: A Multidisciplinary Conference on Child Welfare, Philadelphia, PA, June 2011

· Child welfare workers experiences with child maltreatment fatalities, Presented at the  9th Annual Mississippi Child Welfare Institute Conference, Jackson, MS, February 2011

Fact Sheet Series

Issue 1—Child Welfare Workers’ Knowledge of Risk Factors for Maltreatment Fatalities

Issue 2—Child Welfare Workers Who Experience the Death of a Child Client

Issue 3—The Case, Service, and Family Characteristics of Children Who Die from Maltreatment

Issue 4—Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms Among Child Welfare Workers Who Experience the Death of a Client