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A social ecological analysis of child maltreatment across ethnicities

25 July 1997


The risks of child maltreatment across ethnicities were examined using Bronfenbrenner's social ecology model, which emphasizes an environmental and sociocultural developmental perspective. The literature on child maltreatment risks for both victims and perpetrators was reviewed using the five socio-environmental systems of the micro-, meso-, exo-, macro-, and chrono-system. Risks for child abuse and neglect in the parent-child dyad or relationship included lack of reciprocity, imbalance of power, and negative affective relations. Multi-systemic risks included low SES, social isolation, and single-parent or female-headed families. Differences in cultural values and acculturation as potential risk factors were also examined. Research on child maltreatment across ethnicites was sparse and few studies have used the social ecology model as a framework of analysis. However, some patterns of child maltreatment risk and ethnicity did emerge, and these are discussed. Conclusions are drawn from the review and suggestions are offered for future research in analyzing child maltreatment risks across cultures and ethnic groups


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