Children who prosper in unfavorable environments : the relationship to social capital.
Runyan, Desmond K. Hunter, Wanda M. Socolar, Rebecca R. S. Amaya-Jackson, Lisa. English, Diana. Landsverk, John. Dubowitz, Howard.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.
Published: January 1998
Vol. 101 , p. 12-18
Publication Information: American Academy of Pediatrics, Elk Grove Village, IL.
Available from: North Carolina University, Dept. of Social Medicine
CB# 7240, Wing D
Chapel, NC 27599-7240
The association between social relationships and child development was examined in a cross-sectional, case-control analysis of 667 2- to 5-year old children identified as high-risk. Data were collected from the baseline status of participants in the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect Consortium. Each child received a score from a social capital index that assigned points for two parents or parent figures in the home; social support of the maternal caregiver; no more than two children in the family; neighborhood support; and regular church attendance. Outcomes were measured with the Child Behavior Checklist and the Battelle Developmental Inventory Screening Test. Thirteen percent of the children were classified as doing well, with no indications of behavioral or developmental problems. The individual indicators that best discriminated between levels of child functioning were the most direct measures of social capital: church affiliation; perception of personal social support; and support within the neighborhood. The social capital index was strongly associated with child well-being, more so than any other indicator. The presence of any social capital indicator increased the odds of doing well by 29 percent; adding any two indicators increased the odds by 66 percent. The findings suggest that social capital may have an impact on children's well-being as early as the preschool years. During this period, it seems to be the parents' social capital that confers benefits on their offspring, just as children benefit from their parents' financial and human capital. Social capital may be more crucial for families who have fewer financial and education resources. Policymakers interested in the healthy development of children, particularly children most at risk for poor developmental outcomes, must search for new and creative ways of supporting interpersonal relationships and strengthening the communities in which families carry out the daily activities of their lives. 16 references, 2 figures, and 4 tables.
social influences; ecological factors; resilience; interpersonal relationships; child development; child behavior; preschool children