Child abuse and neglect remains an intractable problem in the US. Approximately six million children are the suspected victims of abuse and neglect and more than 1,700 children die each year as a result of child maltreatment. Surviving victims of child abuse and neglect are at greater risk of a shortened life span, more frequently suffer from an array of major medical conditions, and face a greater likelihood of involvement in crime, delinquency, substance abuse, school failure, depression and suicide. The expensive national child protection system is, by design, both coercive and stigmatizing and has shown no positive impact in preventing child maltreatment.
Preventing child maltreatment before it ever occurs - and minimizing the need for expensive intervention and the risk of widening damage to the social fabric - is at the core of Professor Neil Guterman's research. Recent findings have shown that early home visitation services, delivered directly in the homes of families around the time of a child's birth, hold significant potential to prevent abuse and neglect from ever occurring, and can promote positive developmental trajectories for children their families. Dean and Mose & Sylvia Firestone Professor Neil Guterman's scholarship has been centered on children's victimization and on advancing such preventive strategies so that they deliver real and lasting benefit to vulnerable families.
Guterman has been conducting several related studies on child abuse prevention, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, the Children's Bureau in the Department of Health & Human Services, and a number of private foundations. His "second generation" research on home visitation services is testing ways to improve on the mixed outcomes reported in earlier studies on such services. For example, Guterman has been studying how building parents' social networks might help them better manage the challenges of parenting, and he has been testing a social networking "enhancement" strategy at several partner home visitation agencies in Chicago and New York City. Early findings indicate an array of benefits for participating mothers and their children, delivered in a highly cost efficient service vehicle. Guterman has also been examining the role of fathers in child maltreatment, and is presently designing and testing a second "enhancement" strategy in Chicago that widens the predominant focus of early home visitation services from the mother-child relationship to a more inclusive focus on both mothers and fathers.
Neil B. Guterman is Dean, the Mose and Sylvia Firestone Professor, and the Director of the Beatrice Cummings Mayer Program in Violence Prevention in the School of Social Service Administration. His scholarly interests are concerned with services targeting children and violence, and he holds special interest in child abuse and neglect prevention, as well as children's exposure to violence outside the home. Professor Guterman has published numerous peer reviewed scholarly articles on these topics, is the author of Stopping Child Maltreatment before It Starts: Emerging Horizons in Early Home Visitation Services (Sage, 2001), and is co-editing a second book on child abuse prevention that is expected to become the reference work for the field of child abuse prevention.
Dean Guterman teaches a seminar in violence prevention at SSA, and he currently directs three studies examining the effectiveness of strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect. As a noted authority on children and violence exposure, his expertise has been tapped by the U.S. Surgeon General's Office, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, Prevent Child Abuse America, Children's Trust Funds, and the National Conference of State Legislatures. He has delivered a number of keynote speeches and has provided expert consultation and trainings to State and local governmental bodies, foundations, human service organizations and legal firms. As well, he consults as an editor to a number of professional journals including Child Abuse and Neglect, Social Work, American Journal of Public Health and he serves on the editorial board of Child Maltreatment.
Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Chicago, Professor Guterman served on the faculty of the Columbia University School of Social Work from 1993-2006, where he most recently was Associate Professor and Chair of the Doctoral Program. Prior to this, he was a Lady Davis Postdoctoral Fellow at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has provided direct clinical social work services to children and families in a wide variety of family and child service settings in Michigan, California, Israel, and New York City.
Dean Guterman holds a Ph.D. in Social Work and Psychology from the University of Michigan, as well as an M.S.W. in clinical practice with families and children, also from the University of Michigan. His B.A. is in psychology with highest honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
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