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Macro-level Socio-economic factors and children’s View on Physical and Emotional Maltreatment

Abstract

The association between socio-economic variables and Child Maltreatment (CM) has been analyzed until now through an epidemiological lens, with the aim of identifying social and economic risk factors for CM. Little is known about the association between socio-economic variables and CM perceptions, and especially – children’s perceptions. This study aims to examine the association between poverty, social characteristics, and children’s perceptions regarding the definitions and measures of physical and emotional maltreatment. Data was collected from 4th and 6th graders in 30 Israeli Jewish and Arab schools. In total, 2,536 children responded to a questionnaire, rating which parental behaviors are perceived as constituting physical or emotional maltreatment. Socio-economic characteristics were measured on two levels: characteristics of the locality of the child’s school (parents’ education, income, etc.), and a child material deprivation index. The study demonstrates that while there is a general consensus among children regarding which parental behaviors are considered physical or emotional maltreatment, there is less consensus on the severity of these acts among children from different socio-economic (SES) backgrounds. Children from localities characterized by lower SES tended to rate physical and emotional maltreatment as less severe, compared to their peers. These findings shed light on the potential role of socio-economic characteristics in the perception of CM severity. The findings may potentially affect rates of reporting to social services, and children’s awareness of their rights, and the probability of their seeking help when abused. The findings highlight the need to consider children’s views in the adaptation of prevention and intervention programs to different socio-economic and geographic groups.

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Funding

This study is part of the “Children’s Worlds” project and is funded by the Jacobs Foundation.

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Correspondence to Ayelet Rosenthal.

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Informed consent was obtained from both the children participating in the research and their parents.

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Rosenthal, A. Macro-level Socio-economic factors and children’s View on Physical and Emotional Maltreatment. Child Ind Res 15, 1777–1791 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-022-09941-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-022-09941-5

Keywords

  • Physical maltreatment
  • Emotional maltreatment
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Child perceptions