Session: Child Maltreatment and Child Outcomes: Individual and Contextual Correlates (Society for Social Work and Research 20th Annual Conference - Grand Challenges for Social Work: Setting a Research Agenda for the Future)

98 Child Maltreatment and Child Outcomes: Individual and Contextual Correlates

Friday, January 15, 2016: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Meeting Room Level-Mount Vernon Square B (Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel)
Cluster: Child Welfare
Symposium Organizer:
Lenna Nepomnyaschy, PhD, Rutgers University
Lawrence M. Berger, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison
The serious negative consequences of child maltreatment for children’s well-being have been explored in much previous research. However, much less is known about how to prevent child maltreatment and what factors at the individual, family, and policy levels are associated with maltreatment risk. Harsh parenting, in the form of physical punishment or verbal aggression, can be considered a pre-cursor or a marker of maltreatment and thus may be an important indicator of families at risk. Understanding the effects of harsh parenting on children’s behavior and which children are the most vulnerable to both harsh parenting and its consequences are key to preventing child maltreatment and to mitigating its effects. Further, understanding the role of policies, particularly those related to poverty alleviation (a primary correlate of maltreatment) on the incidence of child maltreatment is another avenue to improve prevention efforts. The three papers in this panel examine the issue of child maltreatment from this broad range of perspectives.  

The first paper, using the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study (FF), examines the effects of psychologically aggressive parenting on early delinquency behaviors among 9-year old children. Results indicate that children who report frequent psychological aggression by mothers have twice the odds of early delinquency as those who report no psychological aggression. These results are robust to inclusion of rich controls, numerous model specifications, and are similar when considering violent, non-violent, and school-related delinquent behaviors.  

The second paper, also based on FF data, examines the effects of spanking, a measure of physically aggressive parenting, on children’s externalizing and internalizing behaviors, and explores the moderating effects of ecological risk factors and genetic sensitivity to environmental influences. Results reveal that the effect of spanking on internalizing behaviors is amplified by the number of ecological risk factors that the family faces, while the effect of spanking on externalizing behaviors is amplified by the child’s genetic sensitivity. Thus, it appears that the most vulnerable children are also the most likely to be harmed by parental spanking.

The final paper examines the associations of state variation in the generosity of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the most important income support and poverty reduction policy in the US, and reports of Child Protective Services (CPS) involvement aggregated to the state level. Results indicate that states with more generous EITCs have higher rates of CPS reports for child neglect, but lower rates of out of home care placements. However, results reveal no association of EITC generosity and CPS reports of physical abuse.

The three papers in this panel highlight the complexity of designing programs and interventions to prevent child maltreatment, but present potential pathways for policymakers and social workers to identify children at risk of maltreatment and to reduce this risk. The panel will include a discussant, with expertise in the intersecting areas of poverty, child maltreatment, and child well-being, to place these findings in context, to connect them to specific policy and program recommendations, and to promote and moderate a rich dialogue between the authors and audience.

* noted as presenting author
Psychologically Aggressive Parenting and Early Delinquency Among 9-Year Old Children
Kathleen Pirozzolo-Fay, JD, Rutgers University; Lenna Nepomnyaschy, PhD, Rutgers University
Gene-Environment Interactions in the Association Between Harsh Parenting and Child Aggression
Michael Mackenzie, PhD, Rutgers University; Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, PhD, Teachers College, Columbia University; Eric Nicklas, PhD, Columbia University; Jane Waldfogel, PhD, Columbia University
State-Level Earned Income Tax Credits and Child Welfare Outcomes
Yonah N. Drazen, MSW, University of Wisconsin-Madison
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