Experiences of Family Structure and Maltreatment across Childhood
Chelsea Smith, University of Texas at Austin
As families become more diverse and economic inequality increases, researchers have concentrated on family contexts promoting or harming children’s development. This study connects the family context to an extreme outcome, child maltreatment. Using data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (n = 2,792), logistic regressions predicted the log-odds of child maltreatment, with mediation analyses identifying mechanisms and multiple group analyses identifying differences by child age. Preliminary results suggest maltreatment was less common for children of married biological parents, especially for older children. Among children of non-involved parents maltreatment was more common, as was the case for psychological maltreatment among children of divorced or separated parents. Age differences were greatest when considering physical maltreatment and among children of married parents for any kind of maltreatment. Future analyses will test these associations in a multivariate framework with particular attention to parent-level mechanisms, child age, and type of maltreatment.