Academic journal article Family Relations

Review of Preventing Child Maltreatment through Social Support: A Critical Analysis

Academic journal article Family Relations

Review of Preventing Child Maltreatment through Social Support: A Critical Analysis

Article excerpt

Thompson, Ross A., Review of Preventing Child Maltreatment through Social Support: A Critical Analysis. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA 1995, 224 pgs. Price $19.95 pp ISBN 0803955952

The popular idea that child maltreatment can be prevented through the provision of social support is subjected to a thorough examination in this volume by Ross Thompson. This book offers a well organized summary of research literature that should prompt a rethinking of conventional approaches to social support interventions aimed at high-risk populations. The messages are critical to consider during this era of shifts in social policies toward children and families.

Social support interventions hold broad appeal. They build on local resources without requiring expensive bureaucracies or highly-skilled professional services. These interventions are noncontroversial to policy-makers and the general public because the anticipated benefits are familiar to anyone who has received assistance from a friend, relative, or neighbor. Social support is a highly versatile form of help; it can be applied to numerous circumstances, from stresses of new parenthood to care of the elderly, across a range of conditions, including socioeconomic status, family structure, age, race and ethnicity.

Thompson demonstrates that social support is a conceptual rubic, not a single phenomenon, by unpacking multiple dimensions of the concept. There are chapters on the nature of social networks and the functions and effects of social support, each with thoughtful attention to child and parent perspectives. The review successfully brings order and depth to often fuzzy and broad-stroke ideas about social support, and is applicable to a range of populations and issues. While students of social support are unlikely to find new material here, there is good attention to the debate on whether an individual's psychological strengths are a cause rather than a result of supportive relationships with others, and a cogent description of how interventions that target one dimension of social support are unlikely to influence other dimensions in desired or predictable ways. …

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