Methods: To determine whether mother's community participation is associated with her scores on the CTS, we estimate a series of ordinary least squares and logistic regressions that focus on associations between mother's community participation and her CTS scores when the child is age 5. As a proxy for community participation, we use survey information on the mother's attendance at parenting groups, information sessions, or social or religious groups within her community; as well as a question asking whether she knows the families who live in her neighborhood well. We control for household income, mother's marital status, parenting stress, the number of children, whether the mother has a drug or alcohol problem, and her level of education. The data are drawn from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a birth cohort study of nearly 5,000 families in 20 urban U.S. cities.
Results: We find that, net of controls, mothers who are more involved in their communities have lower scores on both the psychological aggression and neglect subscales of the CTS, but do not find a significant association with physical assault (although the coefficient was in the expected direction). A number of sensitivity tests were conducted to address the potential role of selection bias. Taken together, these findings suggest that mothers who are more involved in their communities are less likely to exhibit maltreating behaviors.
Conclusions and Implications: This study suggests that mothers who are more involved in their communities are less likely to engage in maltreating behaviors, providing support for social capital theory. These findings suggest that programs that encourage parental involvement within the community may be a useful strategy for preventing maltreatment. Future studies should examine the specific pathways through which community involvement is related to maltreatment, including whether the associations seen here can be attributed to concrete or emotional support from these resources.