Methods: To conduct this scoping review, we searched Scopus, Social Science Citation Index, and Google Scholar for studies examining the link between insecure parental job conditions and child maltreatment outcomes. We used the following search terms in varying combinations in conjunction with “child maltreatment”: “parental;” “job loss;” “unemployment;” “non-standard work schedule;” “low-skilled job;” “unemployment;” “underemployment;” and “work(job) stress.” We searched for articles that included these terms within the title, abstract, or keywords. We selected studies that were published between 2000 and 2022, were published in English, and were peer-reviewed articles. The search strategy resulted in 23 unique studies meeting inclusion criteria.
Results: Overall, we found that higher job-related satisfaction, earnings, and hours worked were protective against child maltreatment. However, working non-standard hours, shift work, and evenings were associated with lower quality of parenting and higher rates of maltreatment. Economic hardship and job instability were also associated with higher rates of maltreatment. In addition, single mothers engaged in underemployment or low-skilled job are associated with predictors for child maltreatment in that they are more likely to be easily exposed to vulnerability from economic headship, motherhood, and work stress.
Conclusions/Implications: This scoping literature review found important associations between work and child maltreatment. Parental employment and child protection are goals pursued at the same time in one policy, and it starts with the premise that they are compatible and not mutually exclusive. However, these relationships are complex. In general, it appears that there is a mixed result rather than a consensus on the relationship between parental employment and child abuse. While policy recommendations often suggest that parents should be working to improve outcomes for children, this literature review suggests that this is true for certain types of employment under certain conditions. Parents who are underemployed, working nonstandard hours, and dissatisfied with their work may be at a greater risk of maltreating their children. Therefore, parents' employment type should not be neglected in policy-making or academic research in the current context. The findings suggest that type and quality of work matter for maltreatment prevention.Furthermore, as the types of child maltreatment appear differently depending on the parents' employment type, intervention policies should be approached by predicting which methods will be effective.