Presentation on theme: "ISCI second International conference University of Western Sydney November, 2009."— Presentation transcript:
ISCI second International conference University of Western Sydney November, 2009
Research on contextual factors and their relation to child maltreatment is neither new nor scarce. Indeed a growing body of knowledge on relations between social networks, community connectedness, neighborhoods social ties and child maltreatment has been developed However, it seems that research that seeks to uncover the relationship between communities, social contexts and child maltreatment is still lagging behind research into individual and family correlates.
First, research of neighborhoods etiology to child maltreatment suffer from the complexity of defining a neighborhood and the use of census block groups as neighborhood and community identifiers. Second, the majority of studies were conducted in urban settings, only a few ventured to suburban neighborhoods and virtually none have looked at rural or small towns' communities. Third, most studies were done in the USA, a few were conducted in other western countries, very few if at all were done in non-Western communities.
Small towns are usually more geographically homogenous and easier to define as a community. The literature on the differentiating nature of neighborhoods and communities across cultures support studies in different cultures. Since communities are not defined only by their social or economical status. Looking at the religious composition of a community, the religion practiced by the community members, their national status (especially among minorities) and other cultural characteristics is crucial for better knowledge.
The “sample”: ◦ 111 small towns (localities) in Israel, each of them with an overall population of 1,000 – 9,999 people. The dependent variable: ◦ official reports of child maltreatment investigations among children aged 0-14.
Economic factors: ◦ The locality socio-economic status ◦ The rate of adults receiving unemployment Residential mobility: ◦ Population loss or gain ◦ Rate of new immigrants in town Family structure: ◦ Rate of children living in single parent's families ◦ Rate of families with 5 or more children
National and religious factors: ◦ Nationality of town ◦ Religion distribution of town population Age factors: ◦ Percentage of children ages 0-14 ◦ Dependency ratio Geographical and peripheral factors: ◦ Location of town ◦ Level of periphery of town
First, we conducted a frequency analysis in order to characterize the localities included in the research. Second, we looked for bi-variant correlations between each of the 12 independent variables and our dependent variable. We used Pearson correlation tests for continues factors, T-tests for dichotomy variables and ANOVA for categorical factors. Third, a stepwise multiple regression analyses was conducted to examine the contribution of the variables that were significant in the previous analyses, to child investigations rate.
The localities mean size was 5,304 (S.D. = 2,358) habitants. Roughly 25% of the overall child population reside in the localities included in the study. An average (for the years 2004-2006) child investigations rates of 0.20% (S.D. = 0.25) of all children 0-14 was calculated (i.e. almost 1,200 investigations).
The independent variableTestNresultsSignificance socio-economic statusPearson110r=0.0430.65 The rate of adults unemploymentPearson111r=0.280**0.003 Population loss or gainPearson111r=-0.192*0.043 Rate of new immigrantsPearson111r=0.349**0.000 Rate of children in single parent's familiesPearson48r=0.634**0.000 Rate of families with 5 or more childrenPearson103r=0.0360.72 Nationality of townT-test111t=1.91; df=106.840.058 Religion distribution of town populationT-test111t=-0.208; df=8.0790.841 Percentage of children ages 0-14Pearson111r=0.070.423 Dependency ratioPearson111r=-0.1180.22 Location of townANOVA111f=4.254**; df=30.007 Level of peripheryPearson111r=0.0310.74
a stepwise multiple regression analyses was employed. The regression included all five variables, found to be correlated in the bi-variant analysis. The order of entering was: locality location, adults’ unemployment rate; population gain or loss, rate of new immigrants; and rate of children in single parent's Results show that our model explain almost 44% of the variance. Individual variable explanation power was: ◦ rate of new immigrants – 13.9% ◦ rate of single parent's families - 16.35% ◦ location - 10.0%
Our study clearly showed that the social organization of a small town locality mattered in regard to rates of child maltreatment. We have found five community structural variables to be statistically related to child maltreatment (when measured as child investigation rates). Interestingly enough, the variables we found to be related to child maltreatment are spread across the various domains of the community social organization.
Even though we have not established a relation between the locality socio-economic status and child maltreatment, we did find unemployment rates to be positively correlated with child maltreatments investigations. By doing so, we supported both the importance of community economic structural variables and the findings of earlier studies, in different settings (western, urban and suburban settings).
Our second pair of independent variables related to residential mobility. Both our variables (i.e. Population loss or gain; and rate of new immigrants in town) were statistically correlated with child maltreatment investigations. Once again these findings support the social organization theory and the importance it relates to residential mobility as well as the findings from earlier studies
In regard to Family structure, our findings go along only partially with findings from earlier studies. We found the rate of children in single parent's families to be the variable with the strongest relation to child maltreatment investigations Yet we failed to establish a statistical correlation between the rate of large families and child maltreatment investigations. One possible explanation is that the average number of children per family in Israel (2.4) is higher then in other western countries
Our study came short of statistically showing a significant relation between the town nationality and child maltreatment investigations. However, with a significant score of 0.058, and with a dichotomy variable in a small sample, it seems safe to argue that the town nationality render at least some future research and consideration when in an effort to identify the etiology of child maltreatment especially in politically and ethnic divided nations.
our study failed to find statistical relations between any of the population age factors and child maltreatment. Here again, the difference between our findings and those from studies in other western countries can relate to the different age pyramid of the Israeli society in which children account to more then one third of the population and the society at large is still a young society
Finally, in what can be considered as a unique contribution of our study, we were able to establish a statistical correlation between the locality location and child maltreatment investigations. We regard this contribution as unique, since the geographical location variable is much harder to utilize when using, as did most of the earlier studies, a census track unit and not a locality.
Our study was set to test two hypotheses. It seems we have proven the first one. Child maltreatment rates in small towns' communities correlates with characteristics of the community level of social organization in a similar way to findings in urban and suburban communities. Indeed, it is especially worthwhile to note that both variables on residential mobility were found to correlate with child maltreatment rates. Looking at the social organization theory, it seems that residential mobility is a core aspect of the theory. In many ways the residential mobility is more influential then the economic factors or family characteristics by themselves.
Our second hypothesis that religious and national structural factors in small towns' communities will also correlate with child maltreatment rates, was not statistically proven. Yet, as elaborated above the nearly significant result for the localities nationality variables supports the hypothesis rational and calls for future research.
The social organization theory as the basis for the claim of the role of communities in understanding child maltreatment was supported by this study. This support is especially important as for the first time it is based on small towns' communities and in a non-Western and non-Christian society. Yet, even though this support is clear it still renders some further exploring and studies. Especially, as to the role of economic factors, age distribution and the religious and national factors.