LCSW Practice Question: Child Abuse and Neglect

By Bethany Vanderbilt on July 5, 2017

Hello! When Amanda Rowan helped me pass my licensing exams in California 8 years ago, I would never have dreamed that I would be writing this blog today. It’s been quite a journey! It all started with practice questions: Amanda helped me read them effectively, understand what the test and question were asking, and make sense of how to evaluate answer choices strategically. Good practice questions have always been our goal at TDC, and I’m excited to be using the blog to share some of that with you again.

We’re going to start with a topic that is certain to come up on your exam, whether you’re studying for the LCSW Exam, the LMSW Exam, the BSW Exam, or any of the MFT Exams: child abuse and neglect.  Why is this so likely to show up? The ASWB knows that your state licensing board wants to confirm you are able to recognize the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect and respond appropriately.


Here’s a sample question to get us going:

During an initial assessment with a 7-year-old boy, a therapist observes that the boy is small in stature and appears listless and gaunt.  He is difficult to engage in play and mostly unresponsive to questions about school and friends.  The therapist notices that the boy is trying to sneak candy from a dish into his pockets.  What should the therapist do NEXT?

A. Comment on the child's behavior

B. Call in the boy's mother to gather additional information

C. Assess for further signs of child neglect

D. Document the observations in the child’s assessment

According to the Social Work Dictionary, child neglect is defined as “The failure of those responsible for the care of a minor to provide the resources needed for healthy physical, emotional, and social development.  Child neglect is seen as an act of omission by caregivers because of limited abilities or resources or other circumstances; it is differentiated from child abuse, which is seen as more willful” (Barker, 2003).

So, what are some indicators of child neglect?  In a test question, we would be looking for developmental indicators, like a delay in social or motor development; physical indicators, such as poor weight gain, failure to thrive, or a protruding abdomen; or emotional/behavioral indicators, such as self-stimulatory behaviors (instead of seeking out adults for comfort), chronic drowsiness, hoarding or stealing food, social withdrawal or awkward peer relationships.


The best answer choice is, in this case, C since the child in the question is presenting with several indicators of possible child neglect.  Answer A does not address the potential seriousness of the situation; answer B may be included in your assessment, but is not enough by itself. Answer D would be appropriate, but isn’t as strong as C as a NEXT step.

Our structured, straightforward approach to exam prep will provide you with exactly what you need to pass your social work exam or MFT exam and nothing you don’t. You can learn more about our social work licensing exam prep HERE and more about our MFT licensing exam prep HERE. If you’d like to connect directly with one of our coaches, you can do that HERE.

We look forward to helping you PASS your exam with confidence!



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