Creating Community Responsibility for Child Protection: Possibilities and Challenges

Chapin Hall, University of Chicago, USA.
The Future of Children (Impact Factor: 1.98). 02/2009; 19(2):67-93. DOI: 10.1353/foc.0.0030
Source: PubMed


Deborah Daro and Kenneth Dodge observe that efforts to prevent child abuse have historically focused on directly improving the skills of parents who are at risk for or engaged in maltreatment. But, as experts increasingly recognize that negative forces within a community can overwhelm even well-intentioned parents, attention is shifting toward creating environments that facilitate a parent's ability to do the right thing. The most sophisticated and widely used community prevention programs, say Daro and Dodge, emphasize the reciprocal interplay between individual-family behavior and broader neighborhood, community, and cultural contexts. The authors examine five different community prevention efforts, summarizing for each both the theory of change and the empirical evidence concerning its efficacy. Each program aims to enhance community capacity by expanding formal and informal resources and establishing a normative cultural context capable of fostering collective responsibility for positive child development. Over the past ten years, researchers have explored how neighborhoods influence child development and support parenting. Scholars are still searching for agreement on the most salient contextual factors and on how to manipulate these factors to increase the likelihood parents will seek out, find, and effectively use necessary and appropriate support. The current evidence base for community child abuse prevention, observe Daro and Dodge, offers both encouragement and reason for caution. Although theory and empirical research suggest that intervention at the neighborhood level is likely to prevent child maltreatment, designing and implementing a high-quality, multifaceted community prevention initiative is expensive. Policy makers must consider the trade-offs in investing in strategies to alter community context and those that expand services for known high-risk individuals. The authors conclude that if the concept of community prevention is to move beyond the isolated examples examined in their article, additional conceptual and empirical work is needed to garner support from public institutions, community-based stakeholders, and local residents.

Full-text preview

Available from:
  • Source
    • "x, xxxx, 2015MCLEIGH, KATZ, DAVIDSON-ARAD, & BEN-ARIEH / 11 Because Strong Communities is based on principles rather than techniques, it is agile enough to match diverse customs, beliefs, and structures in communities (seeBerman et al., 2008). Indeed, recognition of the importance of these principles in preventing harm to children is increasing (e.g.,Daro & Dodge, 2009; Government of South Australia , 2007;Wessells & Kostelny, 2013). Bearing in mind the importance of adherence to the core components of the initiative (i.e., fidelity), manuals have been developed to ensure that key messages and strategies are not lost in the adaptation process. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A unique primary prevention effort, Strong Communities for Children (Strong Communities), focuses on changing attitudes and expectations regarding communities' collective responsibilities for the safety of children. Findings from a 6-year pilot of the initiative in South Carolina have shown promise in reducing child maltreatment, but efforts to adapt the initiative to different cultural contexts have been lacking. No models exist for adapting an initiative that takes a community-level approach to ensuring children's safety. Thus, this article addresses the gap by providing an overview of the original initiative, how the initiative was adapted to the Israeli context, and lessons learned from the experience. Building on conceptualizations of cultural adaptation by Castro et al. (Prevention Science, 5, 2004, 41) and Resnicow et al. (Ethnicity and Disease, 9, 1999, 11), sources of nonfit (i.e., sociodemographic traits, political conflict, government services, and the presence and role of community organizations) were identified and deep and surface structure modifications were made to the content and delivery. Ultimately, this article describes the adaption and dissemination of a community-based child maltreatment prevention initiative in Tel Aviv, Israel, and addresses researchers' calls for more publications describing the adaptation of interventions and the procedures that need to be implemented to achieve cultural relevance.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Family Process
    • "Today the landscape of social support interventions with abuse prevention goals has expanded significantly, with more diverse programs and better evidence of program effectiveness. In addition to home visitation, community-based programs with an abuse prevention focus, such as Strong Communities (Melton et al., 2008), the Triple-P Positive Parenting Program (Sanders, 1999), and the Durham Family Initiative (Dodge et al., 2004), are also beginning to document evidence for child abuse prevention through community mobilization to provide support and assistance to young families (seeDaro & Dodge, 2009). In addition, reductions in child maltreatment have been documented in follow-up studies of children who have participated in high-quality preschool programs with wrap-around services and parent involvement components, such as the Chicago Child–Parent Centers (Reynolds & Robertson, 2003) and Early Head Start (Green et al., 2014). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Social support has been a topic of research for nearly 50 years, and its applications to prevention and intervention have grown significantly, including programs advancing child protection. This article summarizes the central conclusions of the 1994 review of research on social support and the prevention of child maltreatment prepared for the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, and surveys advances in the field since its publication. Among the lessons learned twenty years ago are (a) the diversity of the social support needs of at-risk families and their association with child endangerment, (b) the need to supplement the emotionally affirmative aspects of social support with efforts to socialize parenting practices and monitor child well-being, (c) the desirability of integrating formal and informal sources of social support for recipients, and (d) the importance of considering the complex recipient reactions to receiving support from others. The lessons we are now learning derive from research exploring the potential of online communication to enhance social support, the neurobiology of stress and its buffering through social support, and the lessons of evaluation research that are identifying the effective ingredients of social support interventions.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Child Abuse & Neglect
  • Source
    • "In the present study, frequent access to social support protected infants from neglect, suggesting that prevention policy and programs consider strategies to help teen parents establish regular social contact with others (e.g., home visiting, parent groups, community opportunities for socialization). While social support is a cornerstone of many prevention programs, general strategies to increase social support, even when based on strong empirical and theoretical grounds, are unlikely to reduce neglect unless they address the specific needs of particular families (Daro & Dodge, 2009). Further research might expand our understanding of which forms of social support (e.g., tangible, informational, emotional), from whom (e.g., professionals, paraprofessionals, family, friends), are most likely to protect against neglect for which families. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Infant neglect is the form of child maltreatment that occurs most often, yet has been least amenable to prevention. A maternal history of childhood maltreatment is a potent risk factor for child neglect, yet most maltreated mothers break intergenerational cycles of child abuse and neglect. Little is known about what protective factors support discontinuity in intergenerational transmission. This study examined whether certain factors (positive childhood care, older maternal age, social support) buffer intergenerational risk for neglect among the infants of young mothers, a population at high risk of being victimized. For young mothers in the sample (<21 years at birth; n=447), the effect of a maternal history was assessed separately for different maltreatment types according to data on substantiated reports from Child Protective Services. Early risk for neglect was assessed using maternal self-report of parenting empathy. The results revealed that both infants and their mothers experienced neglect more often than any other maltreatment type. However, approximately 77% of maltreated mothers broke the cycle with their infants (<30 months). Maternal age moderated the relation between a maternal history of neglect and infant neglect, and social support moderated the relation between childhood neglect and maternal empathy. Neglected mothers had considerably higher levels of parenting empathy when they had frequent access to social support than when they had less frequent support, whereas the protective effect of social support was not nearly as strong for nonmaltreated mothers. Study findings highlight resilience in parenting despite risk for infant neglect, but underscore the context specificity of protective processes. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Child abuse & neglect
Show more