Browsing Theses and Dissertations School of Social Work by Author "Ernst, Joy Swanson"
The neighborhood correlates of child maltreatment: Montgomery County, MarylandErnst, Joy Swanson; Zuravin, Susan J., 1944- (1999)This study aimed to extend theoretical and empirical knowledge about the neighborhood-level determinants of child maltreatment in a suburban jurisdiction. The objectives were to: (1) compare the distribution by neighborhood of physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse; (2) identify and compare the neighborhood correlates of these three types of child maltreatment; (3) identify and compare racial- and ethnic-specific rates and correlates of child maltreatment; and (4) replicate a study of community-level factors and child maltreatment in Cleveland, Ohio, with Montgomery County, Maryland, data. Families investigated for child maltreatment in 1995 were matched to their U.S. census tract, the operational definition of neighborhood. Rates of maltreatment were calculated and mapped for each of the county's 159 tracts and used as dependent variables in regression models that revealed the neighborhood-level correlates of three, types of maltreatment and racial- and ethnic-specific rates of maltreatment. Predictor variables hypothesized to represent economic and social resources were derived from 1990 U.S. census data. To replicate the Cleveland study, variables representing levels of community social organization were subjected to a principal components analysis. Factors derived from that analysis were used as independent variables in a regression analysis of the child maltreatment rate.;Results for each objective extended knowledge of neighborhood-level factors associated with maltreatment. First, the distribution of child maltreatment varied by type of maltreatment and by neighborhood. Physical abuse was the most common; sexual abuse the least common. Second, variables representing economic and social resources accounted for a significant proportion of the variance in rates of physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse. Social resource variables contributed independently to the variance in the rates of physical abuse. Significant correlates varied by type of maltreatment. Third, the rates and distribution of maltreatment differed by racial and ethnic group, with the highest rates among Black families and the lowest among White families. The set of predictor variables accounted for a significant proportion of the variance in the rates of both White and Black maltreatment. Fourth, the replication revealed that neighborhood rates of child maltreatment varied with community-level factors associated with economic disadvantage and residential instability.