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Determining risk for child physical harm through the classification of economic insecurity


  • Conrad-Hiebner, Aislinn
  • Paschall, Katherine W.


Children in economically insecure families are more likely to experience physical harm compared with children in economically secure families. It is unclear, however, if particular combinations of economic insecurity are more or less predictive of child physical harm. This study aimed to 1) identify and describe the prevalence of distinct combinations, or classes, of economic insecurity (public and private income transfers, bill-paying, housing, food, and medical hardships), 2) and to associate these classes with child physical harm (spanking, hitting, slapping, shaking, pinching). We employed latent class analysis with age 5 data from the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study (N=4133), finding that four latent classes of economic insecurity differentially predict the prevalence and chronicity of physical harm behaviors. Mothers who reported hardship perpetrated more child physical harm than mothers who received income transfers but reported no hardship. Implications for research, policy, and practice are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Conrad-Hiebner, Aislinn & Paschall, Katherine W., 2017. "Determining risk for child physical harm through the classification of economic insecurity," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 161-169.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:78:y:2017:i:c:p:161-169
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.05.016

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lawrence M. Berger & Jane Waldfogel, 2011. "Economic Determinants and Consequences of Child Maltreatment," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 111, OECD Publishing.
    2. Annamaria Lusardi & Daniel Schneider & Peter Tufano, 2011. "Financially Fragile Households: Evidence and Implications," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 42(1 (Spring), pages 83-150.
    3. Dworsky, Amy & Courtney, Mark E. & Zinn, Andrew, 2007. "Child, parent, and family predictors of child welfare services involvement among TANF applicant families," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 802-820, June.
    4. Reichman, Nancy E. & Teitler, Julien O. & Garfinkel, Irwin & McLanahan, Sara S., 2001. "Fragile Families: sample and design," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4-5), pages 303-326.
    5. Godwin S Ashiabi & Keri K O'Neal, 2007. "Children's Health Status: Examining the Associations among Income Poverty, Material Hardship, and Parental Factors," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 2(9), pages 1-9, September.
    6. Susan E. Mayer & Christopher Jencks, 1989. "Poverty and the Distribution of Material Hardship," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(1), pages 88-114.
    7. Shook, Kristen, 1999. "Does the loss of welfare income increase the risk of involvement with the child welfare system?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(9-10), pages 781-814.
    8. McDaniel, Marla & Slack, Kristen Shook, 2005. "Major life events and the risk of a child maltreatment investigation," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 171-195, February.
    9. Widom, C.S. & Czaja, S.J. & Bentley, T. & Johnson, M.S., 2012. "A prospective investigation of physical health outcomes in abused and neglected children: New findings from a 30-year follow-up," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 102(6), pages 1135-1144.
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    Cited by:

    1. Emily Keddell & Gabrielle Davie, 2018. "Inequalities and Child Protection System Contact in Aotearoa New Zealand: Developing a Conceptual Framework and Research Agenda," Social Sciences, MDPI, vol. 7(6), pages 1-14, June.
    2. Francesca Giambona & Laura Grassini & Daniele Vignoli, 2022. "Detecting economic insecurity in Italy: a latent transition modelling approach," Statistical Methods & Applications, Springer;Società Italiana di Statistica, vol. 31(4), pages 815-846, October.
    3. Wan, Guowei & Tang, Sisi & Xu, Yicheng, 2020. "The prevalence, posttraumatic depression and risk factors of domestic child maltreatment in rural China: A gender analysis," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).

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