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Neighborhoods and Child Maltreatment: A Multi-Level Study

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect Volume: 23 Issue: 11 Dated: November 1999 Pages: 1019-1040
Claudia J. Coulton; Jill E. Korbin; Marilyn Su
Date Published
22 pages
This article attempts to determine how neighborhood and individual factors are related to child maltreatment.
Subjects were 400 parents of children under age 18 from 20 randomly selected census-defined block groups with different risk profiles for child maltreatment report rates. Neighborhood factors of impoverishment and child care burden significantly affected child abuse potential after controlling for individual risk factors. However, neighborhood effects were weaker than they appeared to be in aggregate studies of official child maltreatment reports. Variation in child abuse potential within neighborhoods was greater than between neighborhoods. However, adverse neighborhood conditions weakened the effects of known individual risk and protective factors, such as violence in the family of origin. The article concludes that, if individual potential for child maltreatment is more evenly distributed across neighborhoods than reported maltreatment, then neighborhood and community play an important, if as yet unspecified, role in child maltreatment. Tables, references, appendix