Social disadvantage and neglectful parenting as precursors to the development of antisocial and aggressive child behavior: Testing a theoretical model



The present study tested a theoretical model advanced to understand the direct and mediated effects of social disadvantage, neglectful parenting, and punitive parenting in the developmental trajectory of aggressive and antisocial behavior in young school-aged children. To test the model, families of 310 first grade children and 361 fifth grade children, participating in a universal prevention trial in high-risk areas of a medium-sized metropolitan area, provided data. Multi-method and multi-source indices of the four predictive constructs (Social Disadvantage, Denial of Care Neglect, Supervisory Neglect, and Punitive Discipline) were obtained at the time of enrollment. Multi-method and multi-source indices of the criterion construct (Aggression and Antisocial Behavior) were obtained at the time of enrollment and at a five year follow-up. Based on structural equation modeling, the results established care neglect as a mediator of social disadvantage, and the importance of care neglect to both punitive discipline and antisocial outcomes in the first- and fifth-grade cohorts. Supervisory neglect, however, was important in the antisocial outcome of the fifth-grade cohort only. Overall, the results established the importance of distinguishing between two subtypes of neglect and the need to consider the role of discipline in concert with neglect when attempting to understand the impact of parenting on the development of antisocial behavior. Aggr. Behav. 30:187-205, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.