There is a large body of research that has focused on child abuse, and the vast majority of cases are seen in poor family environments with parenting problems. These parents have generally a diminished capacity to cope with stress in the parenting task coupled with an extreme reaction to stress in general. High concentrations of poor families and material disadvantage characterized by lone parenting, low income, unemployment, high mobility are key correlates of parenting problems.
It’s important to note that all of these families are “in need”, but only some are “at risk”, many families in this category are coping successfully with these hardships. Studies aimed at prediction and prevention of child abuse point to social inequality and social deprivation exacerbating psychological predispositions resulting in parenting breakdown. Poor environments may be deficient in support for parents, the kind of support that arises naturally from networks of families, friends and neighbors. Poor environments can suffer from social fragmentation and lack of community cohesion and these families are more isolated and less supported than families elsewhere.
There is growing interest in resilience, the ability of some individuals to maintain healthy functioning in spite of a background of disadvantage commonly associated with poor outcomes.
The old adage “It takes a village to raise a child” was never more true. Generally families with social and family networks can help parents cope with stress, government programs are effective in this regard but can only do so much.
Want to fight crime? You don’t need a gun or a cape, you need to be a mentor or a community organizer or be part your church’s youth counsel.
Find something in your community, participate, it will help your mental health as well as your community.