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Child abuse and neglect: neurobiological aspects and intervention


NB Language of instruction is English

Admission requirements

This course builds on the knowledge and skills acquired in the following Bachelor courses: Inleiding Pedagogische en Onderwijswetenschappen 1A, Inleiding Pedagogische en Onderwijswetenschappen 1B, Neurobiologische Achtergronden van Opvoeding en Ontwikkeling and Gezinspedagogiek.


Child abuse and neglect (CAN) has potential negative consequences for children’s socio-emotional, cognitive, and somatic development, on a behavioral and neurobiological level. These consequences can be pervasive and life-long.

This course addresses sequelae of CAN on different levels of development, with a focus on neurobiological aspects. Animal models of CAN will be discussed to better understand the consequences of CAN and their specific mechanisms.

The severity and type of consequences of CAN may differ for individual children. Therefore, the course also focuses on factors that may explain these differential effects. We will also discuss the effects of structural neglect, as seen in institution-reared children. Finally, interventions aimed at reducing and preventing (the behavioral and neurobiological effects of) CAN will be discussed.

Course objectives

  • Gaining up-to-date knowledge about (neurobiological) aspects of CAN: consequences, mechanisms, differential effects, and interventions

  • Critically evaluating scientific literature in the area of CAN and where possible translating this knowledge to clinical practice

  • Developing academic skills (e.g., papers, oral presentations) applied to the area of child abuse and neglect


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable

Mode of instruction

Lectures and seminars.

Assessment method

  • Written exam (60%)

  • Written assignments (30%)

  • Oral presentations (10%)

Attendance at the seminars is mandatory. Students have to pass the exam (grade at least 5.5), assignments (average grade at least 5.5), and presentation (grade at least 5.5) to pass the course.

Students who have completed all the assignments with an average that is lower than 5.5 are given the opportunity to do one extra assignment and substitute their lowest grade.

Students who have failed the presentation will be given the opportunity to present a second time with a new presentation assignment.

Students who have passed the assignments and presentation but failed the exam can keep their assignment and presentation grades for one year.

Students who have passed the exam and presentation but failed the written assignments can keep their exam and presentation grades for one year.


During this course Brightspace will be used.

Reading list

Scientific papers, to be announced during the course.


Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures and seminars) they wish to follow. You can register via My Studymap up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.

It is mandatory for all students to register for each exam and to confirm registration for each exam in My Studymap. This is possible up to and including 10 calendar days prior to the examination. You cannot take an exam without a valid pre-registration and confirmation in My Studymap.

Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

Contact information

Co-ordinator: Dr. Whitney de Haan