Understanding the risks of child neglect: An exploration of poverty and parenting characteristics

Kristen Shook Slack*, Jane L. Holl, Marla McDaniel, Joan Yoo, Kerry Bolger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

253 Scopus citations


A strong association between poverty and child neglect has been established, but the mechanisms that explain this relationship have not been clearly articulated. This research takes advantage of survey and child maltreatment administrative data about families with young children and assesses the influence of poverty and parenting characteristics on subsequent child neglect. The authors find that indicators of poverty, such as perceived material hardship and infrequent employment, and parenting characteristics, such as low parental warmth, use of physical discipline, and allowing a child to engage infrequent television viewing, are predictive of child neglect. Parenting characteristics do not appear to mediate the link between perceived hardship and neglect, although they suppress the link between employment and neglect. Results from this study provide information that is highly relevant to the approach and design of child maltreatment prevention and intervention strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-408
Number of pages14
JournalChild Maltreatment
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Neglect
  • Parenting
  • Poverty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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