Session: Positive Neighborhood Aspects and Their Protective Effect Against Child Maltreatment (Society for Social Work and Research 20th Annual Conference - Grand Challenges for Social Work: Setting a Research Agenda for the Future)

99 Positive Neighborhood Aspects and Their Protective Effect Against Child Maltreatment

Friday, January 15, 2016: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Meeting Room Level-Meeting Room 16 (Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel)
Cluster: Child Welfare
Symposium Organizer:
Kathryn Maguire-Jack, PhD, Ohio State University
Theme:  The group of studies included in this symposium all focus on different positive aspects and processes in neighborhoods, with a goal of understanding the potential intervention points to prevent maltreatment.  One study uses data from Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing to estimate the relationship between neighborhood collective efficacy and reports to child protective services, with a focus on the potential mediating role of corporal punishment practices.  Two studies use data from the Franklin County, OH Neighborhood Services Study, with one estimating the association between neighborhood social cohesion and types of self-reported child abuse and neglect, and the other examining the buffering role of available social services in the relationship between parenting stress and self-reported maltreatment.  The final study uses data from the 50 Cities California study to examine whether proximity to social services is associated with lower rates of self-reported child neglect. 

Background: Families who experience substance use, depression, unemployment, and poverty are more likely to experience child maltreatment.  The ecological model suggests that factors exist at different levels of the social ecology including the individual, relationship, community, and societal level that influence child and family relations like maltreatment.  Although much of the literature has focused on individual and family risk factors for maltreatment, there is a significant body of work dedicated to understanding influences at higher levels of the social ecology.

Many studies have relied on social disorganization theory to provide a framework for understanding how neighborhoods might contribute to maltreatment.  Distressed neighborhoods might put parents at additional risk for maltreatment because of the multiple stressors they provide and the lack of social norms that provide a supportive environment for positive parenting.

The neighborhoods in which parents live have the ability to support or hinder positive parenting practices.  Prior research on the community context of child maltreatment has found evidence of a relationship between maltreatment and rates of community poverty, unemployment, residential instability, childcare burden, alcohol and drug availability, and immigrant concentration. The current symposium focuses on positiveaspects of neighborhoods, to understand the potentially protective role these factors may have in preventing child maltreatment.

Significance:  Neighborhoods are a significant potential intervention source for preventing child maltreatment.  While the vast majority of programs have focused on the individual parent- and family-level, community-wide prevention efforts may also reduce maltreatment and improve other child outcomes, without requiring parents to attend time-intensive parenting classes.  The studies included in this symposium seek to understand different positive aspects of neighborhoods and how they relate to child maltreatment behaviors.  It is crucial to understand the pathways through which neighborhoods can positively influence parents and families in order to leverage resources and attention appropriately to prevent maltreatment.  By improving relations among neighbors, increasing availability of social services, increasing parent knowledge of services, and improving accessibility of services, social workers have the opportunity to make a significant impact on reducing child maltreatment.

* noted as presenting author
Maltreatment in Early Childhood: The Role of Neighborhood Disorganization and Parental Corporal Punishment
Julie Ma, MSW, Michigan State University; Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, PhD, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; Sacha Mareka Klein, PhD, Michigan State University
The Protective Effect of Neighborhood Social Cohesion in Child Abuse and Neglect
Kathryn Showalter, MSW, Ohio State University; Kathryn Maguire-Jack, PhD, Ohio State University
Parenting Stress and Child Maltreatment: The Buffering Effect of Neighborhood Social Service Availability and Accessibility
Tori Negash, MSW, Ohio State University; Kathryn Maguire-Jack, PhD, Ohio State University
Parenting and Proximity to Social Services: Lessons from Los Angeles County in the Community Context of Child Neglect
Kathryn Maguire-Jack, PhD, Ohio State University; Sacha Mareka Klein, PhD, Michigan State University
See more of: Symposia