Methods: Parents who participated in child maltreatment programs in 16 Texas counties were asked to complete a voluntary pre-survey (incorporating multiple standardized instruments) detailing their risk and protective factors for child maltreatment. The parents’ exposure to childhood trauma was measured using the Adverse Childhood Experiences survey developed by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control; parenting was measured using the parenting resilience subscale of the Parents’ Assessment of Protective Factors Instrument; neighborhood safety was measured with the Perceived Neighborhood Quality/Health Scale; current mental health of the parent was measured using the Mental Health Inventory 5 (MHI-5); current parental substance use was measured by the UNCOPE; current parental alcohol use with the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption screen (AUDIT-C); and current domestic violence was measured by the Hurt, Insulted, Threatened with Harm and Screamed screen (HITS). Multiple linear regression was employed to examine whether neighborhood safety predicts parenting resilience. The first model included neighborhood safety as the independent variable and parenting resilience as the dependent variable. In the second model, additional predictors (adverse childhood experiences, substance use, alcohol use, mental health and domestic violence) were added as covariates to examine their potential mediating effects on the relationship between neighborhood safety and parental resilience.
Results: A total of 1,256 caregivers completed the survey. The mean age of caregivers was 29. The majority of the caregivers were female (94%), Hispanic (86%), and single or divorced (52%). Almost half (46%) had an annual income of less than $10,000. The mean score on the neighborhood safety scale was 3.04 on a scale from one to four (SD=0.72). The mean ACE score was 2.79 (SD=3.27). Regression findings suggest that neighborhood safety explained 11.6% of the variance in parenting resilience and that the neighborhood safety was a significant predictor (p=0.001). When mental health, substance use, alcohol use, childhood trauma and domestic violence were added to the model, the model explained 20.9% of the variation in parenting resilience. Neighborhood safety scores remained a significant factor in the model (β=0.270, p<0.001). Mental health was also a significant correlate in the model (β=0.009, p<0.001), along with the parent’s alcohol use (β=0.170, p=0.013).
Conclusions and Implications: Findings suggest that neighborhood safety is positively associated with parenting resilience even when controlling for personal factors such as the parent’s current mental health, substance use, alcohol use, and history of childhood trauma. Research, policy, and programs addressing child maltreatment prevention should address macro neighborhood-level factors as well the traditional micro-level factors because neighborhood safety appears to be related to parenting characteristics.