Bronfenbrenner Child Maltreatment

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The conceptual framework proposed for examining child maltreatment is the ecological model. This model, derived from ecological psychology, focuses on the progressive, mutual adaptation of organism and environment. It conceives the child, family, and community as an interactive set of systems “nested” within each other, and sees social reality as the interaction of interdependent systems. Stress and social support / networks are also implicated in this model. As shown in the diagram, the model offers a framework for considering stress and the availability of social support /social networks in relation to the typology of four levels, which are labeled as individual, familial, social, and cultural. Specifically, the presumption is that social support / social networks mediate the relationships between the four levels of factors, stress, and child maltreatment. The four levels of factors, as a group, comprise what are termed predisposing factors. Predisposing factors are characteristics that make the individual susceptible to child maltreatment and precede the life events. Individual factors are the characteristics that the parent and the child-victim possess as a result of their unique life histories and physical and psychological attributes. Parental characteristics which have been found to be related to incidence of child maltreatment are poor self-concept, poor self-esteem, a history of abuse as a child, a lack of parenting skills, and / or a general lack of knowledge about child development. Prematurity, low birthweight, congenital defects, and chronic illnesses are also cited as factors observed in child-victims. However, these individual factors are not sufficient in and of themselves to cause abuse and neglect. Rather, they must be seen in the context of the parent-child relationship which, in turn, is nested in the wider family. Therefore, the next level of the model, that of the family, must be observed. Familial factors are those involving both the...
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