Averting Child Maltreatment: Individual, Economic, Social, and Community Resources that Promote Resilient Parenting

  • Kimberly DuMontEmail author
  • Susan Ehrhard-Dietzel
  • Kristen Kirkland


Understanding resilience as an ecological construct, the authors show that a mother’s parenting behaviors help nurture the healthy development of her child and protect the child from maltreatment. They also argue that to this parent–child understanding of resilience must be added a more contextualized appreciation for the child-rearing environment that influences the ability of caregivers to nurture their children. Reporting on a study with a sample of mothers who face a great deal of adversity and were at risk of neglecting or abusing their children, the chapter identifies which factors are likely to predict poor outcomes and who defines the nature of risk.


Social Capital Child Maltreatment Parenting Behavior Child Protective Service Supportive Partner 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported in part by an award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (Grant # 2006102).


  1. Anderson, J. W., Johnstone, B. M., & Remley, D. T. (1999). Breast-feeding and cognitive development: A meta-analysis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 70, 525–535.Google Scholar
  2. Ardelt, M., & Eccles, J. S. (2001). Effects of mothers’ parental efficacy beliefs and promotive parenting strategies on inner-city youth. Journal of Family Issues, 22, 944–972.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baier, C. J., & Wright, B. R. E. (2001). If you love me, keep my commandments: A meta-analysis of the effect of religion on crime. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 38, 3–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ball, J., Armistead, L., & Austin, B. (2003). The relationship between religiosity and adjustment among African American, female, urban adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 26, 431–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barrera, M., Jr., Sandler, I. N., & Ramsay, T. B. (1981). Preliminary development of a scale of social support: Studies on college students. American Journal of Community Psychology, 9, 435–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barth, R. P. (1991). An experimental evaluation of in-home child abuse prevention services. Child Abuse & Neglect, 15, 363–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bavolek, S. J., & Keene, R. G. (1999). Adult-adolescent parenting inventory (AAPI-2): Administration and development handbook. Park City: Family Development Resources Inc.Google Scholar
  8. Belsky, J. (1980). Child maltreatment: An ecological integration. American Psychologist, 35, 320–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Belsky, J. (1993). Etiology of child maltreatment: A developmental-ecological analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 413–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Benda, B. B., & Toombs, N. J. (2000). Religiosity and violence – are they related after considering the strongest predictors? Journal of Criminal Justice, 28, 483–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Berger, L. M. (2004). Income, family structure, and child maltreatment risk. Children and Youth Services Review, 26, 725–748.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Berger, L. M. (2005). Income, family characteristics, and physical violence toward children. Child Abuse & Neglect, 29, 107–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Britton, J. R., Britton, H. L., & Gronwaldt, V. (2006). Breastfeeding, sensitivity, and attachment. Pediatrics, 118, 1436–1443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bronfrenbrenner, U. (1974). Developmental research, public policy, and the ecology of childhood. Child Development, 45, 1–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bronfrenbrenner, U. (1977). Toward an experimental ecology of human development. American Psychologist, 32, 513–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Brown, J., Cohen, P., Johnson, J. G., & Salzinger, S. (1998). A longitudinal analysis of risk factors for child maltreatment: Findings of a 17-year prospective study of officially recorded and self-reported child abuse and neglect. Child Abuse & Neglect, 22, 1065–1078.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Bugental, D. B., Ellerson, P. C., Lin, E. K., Rainey, B., Kokotovic, A., & O’Hara, N. (2002). A cognitive approach to child abuse prevention. Journal of Family Psychology, 16, 243–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chaffin, M., Kelleher, K., & Hollenberg, J. (1996). Onset of physical abuse and neglect: Psychiatric, substance abuse, and social risk factors from prospective community data. Child Abuse & Neglect, 20, 191–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chaffin, M., Silovsky, J., Funderburk, B., Valle, L. A., Brestan, E. V., Balachova, T., et al. (2004). Parent–child interaction therapy with physically abusive parents: Efficacy for reducing future abuse reports. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72, 491–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chen, Z., & Kaplan, H. B. (2001). Intergenerational transmission of constructive parenting. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63, 17–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94, S95–S120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Connell-Carrick, K., & Scannapieco, M. (2006). Ecological correlates of neglect in infants and ­toddlers. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21, 299–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Coohey, C. (1995). Neglectful mothers, their mothers, and partners: The significance of mutual aid. Child Abuse & Neglect, 19, 885–895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Cox, M. J., Owen, M. T., Lewis, J. M., Riedel, C., Scalf-McIver, L., & Suster, A. (1985). Intergenerational influences on the parent-infant relationship in the transition to parenthood. Journal of Family Issues, 6, 543–564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Crnic, K. A., Greenberg, M. T., Ragozin, A. S., Robinson, N. M., & Basham, R. B. (1983). Effects of stress and social support on mothers and premature and full-term infants. Child Development, 54, 209–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Dennis, C. (2002). Breastfeeding initiation and duration: A 1990–2000 literature review. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 31, 12–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Dubowitz, H., Black, M. M., Kerr, M. A., Starr, R. H., Jr., & Harrington, D. (2000). Fathers and child neglect. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 154, 135–141.Google Scholar
  28. DuMont, K. A., Mitchell-Herzfeld, C., Greene, R., Lee, E., Lowenfels, A., Rodriguez, M., et al. (2008). Healthy families New York randomized trial: Effects on early child abuse and neglect. Child Abuse & Neglect, 32, 295–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Egeland, B., Breitenbucher, M., & Rosenberg, D. (1980). Prospective study of the significance of life stress in the etiology of child abuse. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 48, 195–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Else-Quest, N. M., Hyde, J. S., & Clark, R. (2003). Breastfeeding, bonding, and the mother-infant relationship. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 49, 495–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Evans, D. T., Cullen, F. T., Dunaway, R. G., & Burton, V. S. (1995). Religion and crime reexamined: The impact of religion, secular controls, and social ecology on adult criminality. Criminology, 33, 195–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Fagan, J., & Palkovitz, R. (2007). Unmarried, nonresident fathers’ involvement with their infants: A risk and resilience perspective. Journal of Family Psychology, 21, 479–489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Fraser, M. W., Kirby, L. D., & Smokowski, P. R. (2004). Risk and resilience in childhood. In M. W. Fraser (Ed.), Risk and resilience in childhood (pp. 13–66). Washington: NASW Press.Google Scholar
  34. Furstenberg, F. F. (1993). How families manage risk and opportunity in dangerous neighborhoods. In W. J. Wilson (Ed.), Sociology and the public agenda (pp. 231–258). California: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  35. Furstenberg, F. F., & Hughes, M. E. (1995). Social capital and successful development among at-risk youth. Journal of Marriage and Family, 57, 580–592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Garbarino, J. (1976). A preliminary study of some ecological correlates of child abuse: The impact of socioeconomic stress on mothers. Child Development, 47, 178–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Garbarino, J., & Sherman, D. (1980). High-risk neighborhoods and high-risk families: The human ecology of child maltreatment. Child Development, 51, 188–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hanson, L. (1998). Breastfeeding provides passive and likely long-lasting active immunity. Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 81, 523–537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hashima, P. Y., & Amato, P. R. (1994). Poverty, social support, and parental behavior. Child Development, 65, 394–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hays, R. D., Sherbourne, C. D., & Mazel, R. M. (1993). The RAND 36-item health survey 1.0. Health Economics, 2, 217–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hildyard, K., & Wolfe, D. (2007). Cognitive processes associated with child neglect. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31, 895–907.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Jackson, A. P., & Scheines, R. (2005). Single mothers’ self-efficacy, parenting in the home environment, and children’s development in a two-wave study. Social Work Research, 29, 7–20.Google Scholar
  43. Jansen, J., de Weerth, C., & Riksen-Walraven, J. M. (2008). Breastfeeding and the mother-infant relationship-A review. Developmental Review, 28, 503–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Jarrett, R. L. (1997). Bringing families back in: Neighborhood effects on child development. In J. Brooks-Gunn, G. J. Duncan, & J. L. Aber (Eds.), Neighborhood poverty (Vol. II, pp. 48–64). New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  45. Kempe, H. (1976). Child abuse and neglect: The family and the community. Cambridge: Ballinger Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  46. Klebanov, P. K., Brooks-Gunn, J., & Duncan, G. J. (1994). Does neighborhood and family poverty affect mothers’ parenting, mental health, and social support? Journal of Marriage and Family, 56, 441–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kochanska, G., Friesenborg, A. E., Lange, L. A., & Martel, M. M. (2004). Parents’ personality and infants’ temperament as contributors to their emerging relationship. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86, 744–759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kohen, D. E., Leventhal, T., Dahinten, V. S., & McIntosh, C. N. (2008). Neighborhood disadvantage: Pathways of effects for young children. Child Development, 79, 156–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Korbin, J. E., & Coulton, C. J. (1997). Understanding the neighborhood context for children and families: Combining epidemiological and ethnographic approaches. In J. Brooks-Gunn, G. J. Duncan, & J. L. Aber (Eds.), Neighborhood poverty (Vol. II, pp. 65–79). New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  50. Korfmacher, J. (2000). The Kempe family stress inventory: A review. Child Abuse & Neglect., 24, 129–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Kotch, J. B., Browne, D. C., Dufort, V., & Winsor, J. (1999). Predicting child maltreatment in the first 4 years of life from characteristics assessed in the neonatal period. Child Abuse & Neglect, 23, 305–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Kriesberg, L. (1970). Mothers in poverty: A study of fatherless families. Illinois: Aldine.Google Scholar
  53. Lamb, M. E., & Tamis-Lemonda, C. S. (2004). The role of the father: An introduction. In M. E. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development (4th ed., pp. 1–31). Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  54. Lavelli, M., & Poli, M. (1998). Early mother-infant interaction during breast- and bottle-feeding. Infant Behavior and Development, 21, 667–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Lindsey, D. (1994). The welfare of children. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Luthar, S. S., & Zelazo, L. B. (2003). Research on resilience: An integrative review. In S. S. Luthar (Ed.), Resilience and vulnerability: Adaptation in the context of childhood adversities (pp. 510–550). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Manji, S., Maiter, S., & Palmer, S. (2005). Community and informal social support for recipients of child protective services. Children and Youth Services Review, 27, 291–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. McCormick, M. C. (1985). The contribution of low birth weight to infant mortality and childhood morbidity. New England Journal of Medicine, 312, 82–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Mezzacappa, E. S., & Katkin, E. S. (2002). Breast-feeding is associated with reduced perceived stress and negative mood in mothers. Health Psychology, 21, 187–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Pearlin, L. I., & Schooler, C. (1978). The structure of coping. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 19, 2–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Polansky, N. A., Gaudin, J. M., Ammons, P. W., & Davis, K. B. (1985). The psychology of the neglectful mother. Child Abuse & Neglect, 9, 265–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Rutter, M. (2000). Resilience reconsidered: Conceptual considerations, empirical findings, and policy implications. In J. P. Shonkoff & S. J. Meisels (Eds.), Handbook of early childhood intervention (2nd ed., pp. 651–682). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Sampson, R. J., Raudenbush, S. W., & Earls, F. (1997). Neighborhoods and violent crime: A multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science, 277, 918–924.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Scannapieco, M., & Connell-Carrick, K. (2005). Focus on the first years: Correlates of substantiation of child maltreatment for families with children 0 to 4. Children and Youth Services Review, 27, 1307–1323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Slack, K., Holl, J. L., McDaniel, M., Yoo, J., & Bolger, K. (2004). Understanding the risks of child neglect: An exploration of poverty and parenting characteristics. Child Maltreatment, 9, 395–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Smith, G. (1999). Resilience concepts and findings: Implications for family therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 21, 154–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Strathearn, L., Mamun, A., Najman, J., & O’Callaghan, M. (2009). Does breastfeeding protect against substantiated child abuse and neglect? A 15-year cohort study. Pediatrics, 123, 483–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Turner, R. J., Lloyd, D. A., & Roszell, P. (1999). Personal resources and the social distribution of depression. American Journal of Community Psychology, 27, 643–672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2010). Child Maltreatment 2008. Retrieved Jan 8, 2010, from
  70. Ungar, M. (2006). Pathways to resilience among children in child welfare, corrections, mental health and educational settings: Navigation and negotiation. Child & Youth Care Forum, 34(6), 423–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Ungar, M. (2011). The social ecology of resilience: Addressing contextual and cultural ambiguity of a nascent construct. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 81(1), 1–17.Google Scholar
  72. van den Boom, D. C., & Hoeksma, J. B. (1994). The effect of infant irritability on mother-infant interaction: A growth-curve analysis. Developmental Psychology, 30, 581–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Virden, S. F. (1988). The relationship between infant feeding method and maternal role adjustment. Journal of Nurse Midwifery, 33, 31–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Weisenfeld, A., Malatesta, C., Whitman, P., Grannose, C., & Vile, R. (1985). Psychophysiological response of breast and bottle-feeding mothers to their infants’ signals. Psychophysiology, 22, 79–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wekerle, C., Wall, A., Leung, E., & Trocme, N. (2007). Cumulative stress and substantiated maltreatment: The importance of caregiver vulnerability and adult partner violence. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31, 427–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Windham, A. M., Rosenberg, L., Fuddy, L., McFarlane, E., Sia, C., & Duggan, A. K. (2004). Risk of mother-reported child abuse in the first 3 years of life. Child Abuse & Neglect, 28, 645–667.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Wojnar, D. (2004). Maternal perceptions of early breastfeeding experiences and breastfeeding outcomes at 6 weeks. Clinical Effectiveness in Nursing, 8, 93–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Wright, M. O., & Masten, A. S. (2005). Resilience processes in development: Fostering positive adaptation in the context of adversity. In S. Goldstein & R. B. Brooks (Eds.), Handbook of resilience in children (pp. 17–37). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Zelenko, M., Lock, J., Kraemer, H. C., & Steiner, H. (2000). Perinatal complications and child abuse in a poverty sample. Child Abuse & Neglect, 24, 939–950.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kimberly DuMont
    • 1
    Email author
  • Susan Ehrhard-Dietzel
    • 2
  • Kristen Kirkland
    • 1
  1. 1.New York State’s Office of Children and Family ServicesBureau of Evaluation and ResearchRensselaerUSA
  2. 2.Center for Human Services ResearchState University of New YorkAlbanyUSA

Personalised recommendations