There may be a relationship between the spanking of children, the type of neighborhood the children live in and the likelihood of a report of abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services (CPS), according to a new study published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect.
The study looked at a sample of 2,267 children drawn from Princeton University’s Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. Researchers at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University compared that group against a random sample of 4,789 births between 1998-2000 in 20 large U.S. cities.
Neighborhood cohesion refers to those “where neighbors are willing to help each other and generally get along.” The study determined that neighborhood cohesion – defined as places “where neighbors are willing to help each other and generally get along” – served as a protective factor against contact with CPS, the study found.
It also found that CPS is less likely to intervene in families where children are not often spanked.
“Our findings suggest that promoting caring, neighborly relationships among residents that support the needs and challenges of families with young children can help ensure children’s safety,” said study co-author Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, an associate professor of social work at the University of Michigan (UM).
According to Julie Ma, assistant professor of social work at UM-Flint, this is the first study to look at neighborhood conditions and spanking as precursors of child maltreatment at the same time, rather than separately.
“Both the types of neighborhoods in which parents choose, or are forced, to raise their children and parents’ decisions about whether they spank their children influence the chances of CPS involvement,” Ma said, in a statement announcing the report. “Programs and policies should address strategies for building supportive resident interactions in the neighborhoods, as well as nonphysical child discipline to help reduce maltreatment.”
Find the full study here.