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Neighborhood poverty and child abuse and neglect: The mediating role of social cohesion

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  • McLeigh, Jill D.
  • McDonell, James R.
  • Lavenda, Osnat

Abstract

Child maltreatment is a significant public health problem. For decades, scholars and practitioners alike have sought to better understand and address its underlying factors. Among those factors are neighborhood socioeconomic conditions, including poverty rates. Understanding the mechanisms through which these factors affect maltreatment rates, however, is underdeveloped. This article explores the relationship between neighborhood poverty and child abuse and neglect rates in a diverse set of neighborhoods in South Carolina. Using data collected from a survey administered to a random sample of caregivers with children under the age of 10 (n = 483), substantiated reports of child abuse and neglect, and Census block group data, this study investigates the possibility that neighborhood social cohesion (i.e., mutual trust and shared expectations among neighbors), mediates the relationship between neighborhood poverty and child abuse and neglect rates. Significant direct effects of poverty on rates of neglect and abuse were found. Multiple regression analyses were then conducted to assess the proposed mediation models. Social cohesion was found to mediate the association between neighborhood-level poverty and abuse rates but not neglect rates. The findings suggest that efforts to increase neighborhood social cohesion may be effective in reducing rates of child abuse.

Suggested Citation

  • McLeigh, Jill D. & McDonell, James R. & Lavenda, Osnat, 2018. "Neighborhood poverty and child abuse and neglect: The mediating role of social cohesion," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 154-160.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:93:y:2018:i:c:p:154-160
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.07.018
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Merritt, Darcey H., 2009. "Child abuse potential: Correlates with child maltreatment rates and structural measures of neighborhoods," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(8), pages 927-934, August.
    2. Freisthler, Bridget, 2004. "A spatial analysis of social disorganization, alcohol access, and rates of child maltreatment in neighborhoods," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(9), pages 803-819, September.
    3. Ben-Arieh, Asher, 2010. "Localities, social services and child abuse: The role of community characteristics in social services allocation and child abuse reporting," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 536-543, April.
    4. Freisthler, Bridget, 2004. "Corrigendum to "A spatial analysis of social disorganization, alcohol access, and rates of child maltreatment in neighborhoods" [Chilren and Youth Services Review 26 (2004) 803-819]," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(12), pages 1193-1192, December.
    5. Barnhart, Sheila & Maguire-Jack, Kathryn, 2016. "Single mothers in their communities: The mediating role of parenting stress and depression between social cohesion, social control and child maltreatment," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 37-45.
    6. 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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    1. Abdullah, Alhassan & Ayim, Mary & Bentum, Hajara & Emery, Clifton R., 2021. "Parental poverty, physical neglect and child welfare intervention: Dilemma and constraints of child welfare workers in Ghana," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 126(C).
    2. Eileen E. Avery & Joan M. Hermsen & Danielle C. Kuhl, 2021. "Toward a Better Understanding of Perceptions of Neighborhood Social Cohesion in Rural and Urban Places," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 157(2), pages 523-541, September.
    3. Keddell, Emily & Cleaver, Kerri & Fitzmaurice, Luke, 2021. "The perspectives of community-based practitioners on preventing baby removals : Addressing legitimate and illegitimate factors," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 127(C).
    4. Pasian, Mara Silvia & Benitez, Priscila & Lacharité, Carl, 2020. "Child neglect and poverty: A Brazilian study," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 108(C).
    5. Murshid, Nadine Shaanta & Irish, Andrew, 2021. "Mapping the association between exposure to violence and mental health problems among a representative sample of youth in Bangladesh," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 120(C).

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