Understanding the Social Ecological Model

PCA Missouri is committed to preventing child abuse at all levels—individual, family, community and society. The Social Ecological Model is a comprehensive public health approach that not only addresses an individual’s risk factors, but also the norms, beliefs, and social and economic systems that create the conditions for child maltreatment to occur.

Individual Level: At this level are parent and child characteristics—emotional and psychological characteristics, temperament, behavior, problem-solving skills, health conditions, and beliefs—that can affect the rearing of children.

Family / Relationship Level: the family level contains factors such as family size, cohesion, communication, support, conflict, and stability that directly affect the child and influence the way in which parents care for their children.

Community Level: families operate within neighborhoods and communities. Factors that characterize a neighborhood such as availability of supports (governmental and community), stability, violence, poverty, disorganization, and isolation, all affect the ability of families to nurture their children.

Societal Level: the larger culture in which families operate and children are raised plays a significant role in how families care for their young. Religious or cultural belief systems, values such as self-reliance and family privacy, and the cultural acceptance of media violence and corporal punishment of children affect the way in which parents raise their children and the ways in which communities support families.

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