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Multilevel Study of Neighborhoods and Parent-to-Child Physical Aggression: Results From the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods

NCJ Number
Child Maltreatment Volume: 8 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2003 Pages: 84-97
Beth E. Molnar; Stephen L. Buka; Robert T. Brennan; John K. Holton; Felton Earls
Mark Chaffin
Date Published
May 2003
14 pages
This study attempted to identify features of neighborhoods that may affect the amount of parent-to-child physical aggression (PCPA) used by residents through data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods.
The majority of children in the United States experience parent-to-child physical aggression (PCPA), a disciplinary strategy used on children. To the author’s knowledge, there are no previous studies that have investigated whether deleterious neighborhood conditions exacerbate caregivers’ use of PCPA, or whether positive neighborhood social processes influence lower use of PCPA, taking family characteristics into account. This article presents results from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, a multilevel approach to study whether neighborhoods affect the amount of punishment and/or physical abuse used by individual families. The study included: (1) an examination of how much variance existed between neighborhoods; (2) an introduction of measures of neighborhood disadvantage and their independent association with PCPA; (3) an examination of whether differences between neighborhoods remained significant after accounting for family factors; and (4) an investigation of whether there were neighborhood effects persisting when family characteristics were taken into account. Data were analyzed using hierarchical linear modeling. Values obtained show that several neighborhood characteristics were associated with PCPA. Findings indicate: (1) differences in PCPA between families were greater than differences between neighborhood; (2) concentrated disadvantage (taking into account several poverty-related neighborhood indicators) and community violence significantly predicted higher use of PCPA; (3) higher immigrant concentration predicted lower use of PCPA; and (4) both family and neighborhood level socioeconomic disadvantage had a relationship with the amount of PCPA reported by caregivers. In conclusion, the use of PCPA is considered to be an ineffective parenting behavior with the potential of being harmful to child development. This research supports previous research in that the best way to prevent family violence is to meet the needs of families experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage. References