Family Structure, Relationship Transitions, and Risk of Child Abuse/Neglect

William J. Schneider, Columbia University

This paper examines the association between family structure and relationship transitions and the risk of child abuse and neglect. It draws on the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal birth cohort of low-income, mostly unmarried, children and families. I investigate whether family structure and relationship transitions over the first 9 years of a child’s life are associated with harsh parenting or neglect by both mothers and fathers, and CPS involvement. First, I draw on three measures of harsh parenting: frequency and severity of corporal punishment, and physical and psychological aggression. Next, I estimate the association between both family structure and relationship transitions and four measures of neglect: supervisory, medical, physical, and psychological. Last, I analyze mothers’ involvement with Child Protective Services. Preliminary results suggest that both the nature and number of relationship transitions play a role in maltreatment while stability in relationships of all kinds may be protective.

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 Presented in Session P7. Health and Mortality of Women, Children and Families