Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Cooperating University

University of Kentucky


Social Work

Committee Chair

Sar, Bibhuti K.

Author's Keywords

Child neglect; Attachment and bonding; Child welfare; Attachment; Bonding


Child abuse--Prevention; Parent and child; Parents--Attitudes; Parents--Social conditions; Parenting--Psychological aspects; Parenting--Social aspects


The study purpose was three-fold: finding a point of entry for primary prevention of child neglect, assessing for child neglect risk level for both first-time mothers and their partners, and individuals opinions about establishing and administering a multi-dimensional family assessment tool prior to birth. This study utilized a non-experimental, cross-sectional design to survey 250 first-time expectant mothers and their partners, attending Lamaze Classes at a public hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. Participants completed a 97-item questionnaire comprised of eleven different measures identifying individual personal (Attachment Theory) and situational characteristics (Ecological Theory). Results indicated that this particular population was predominately White Caucasian first-time expectant mothers and partners, the partners were at greater risk of child neglect than first-time mothers. First-time mothers were at low risk of child neglect but at higher risk of being unable to recognize situations indicative of child neglect. Preoccupied first-time mothers were more likely to recognize child neglect than fearful mothers. Participants with history of depression were better able to recognize scenarios of child neglect. Partners were less likely to possess knowledge addressing child development issues at ages 3 and 6 months. Partners, who were parented in a permissive manner exhibited more problems in identifying incidences of child neglect. The minority and non-married partners were more at-risk of child neglect. Participants were not particularly favorable regarding passage of a law mandating the assessment of child neglect prior to birth, even though they indicated they would participate if a law was enacted. Of the 22 predictor variables, three (opinions about babies, race, and physical health) and two (race and marital status) significantly contributed to the predictive model for risk of child neglect for the first-time expectant mothers and their partners respectively. One variable (history of depression) and two (history of depression and parented father permissive) significantly contributed to the predictive model for awareness regarding recognition of child neglect for mothers and partners respectively. This research study identified some of the predictive factors that should be considered in designing and initiating preventive services to address child neglect.