Social capital, family violence, and neglect.Pediatrics. 2006 Jun; 117(6):e1124-31.Ped
Social capital includes collective efficacy, psychological sense of community, neighborhood cohesion, and parental investment in the child. It has been shown to be associated with a variety of health and welfare outcomes and may be useful in understanding and preventing parenting behaviors on the continuum of child abuse and neglect.
The purpose of this research was to evaluate low social capital as a risk factor for harsh physical punishment, neglectful parenting, psychologically harsh parenting, and domestic violence.
This study is an analysis of cross-sectional telephone survey data of mothers in North and South Carolina (n = 1435). We constructed a 4-point social capital index reflecting survey responses to items ascertaining neighborhood characteristics, willingness to take personal action, the presence of 2 adults in the household, and regular religious service participation. We assessed the relationship of social capital to inventories of self-reported parenting behaviors and in-home violence.
In adjusted analysis, we found that each 1 point increase in a 4-point social capital index was associated with a 30% reduction in the odds of neglectful parenting, psychologically harsh parenting, and domestic violence. There was no relationship between social capital and harsh physical punishment.
This study demonstrates that increasing social capital decreases the odds of neglectful parenting, psychologically harsh parenting, and domestic violence but not harsh physical punishment. This supports further investigation into developing social capital as a resource for families.