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Child Abuse Negl. 2003 Feb;27(2):153-68.

Social isolation from communities and child maltreatment: a cross-cultural comparison.

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  • 1Area de Psicologia Social, Facultad de Psicologia, Universitat de Valencia, Avda. Blasco IbaƱez 21, 46010, Valencia, Spain.



The aim of this study is to determine: (1) the differences between Spanish and Colombian cultures in relation to community social support variables, and (2) the relationships between community social support variables and child maltreatment in both cultures.


The study was based on 670 nonabusive families and 166 abusive families. The parents were asked to complete the Community Social Support Questionnaire. This instrument measures community social support in terms of Community Integration and Satisfaction, membership in voluntary organizations and community participation, and use of Community Resources of Social Support.


Differences between both cultures were found in the pattern of community social support for the nonabusive groups. However, the relationships between community social support and child maltreatment were similar cross-culturally. Our results indicate that in both cultures abusive parents show lower levels of community integration, participation in community social activities and use of formal and informal organizations than the parents that provide adequate care.


The results largely support the literature that has repeatedly reported the link between social isolation and child maltreatment and they confirm this relation within two cultural contexts, Colombian and Spanish, quite different from the Anglo-Saxon context, where most of the previous studies have been carried out.

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