The COVID-19 pandemic and associated mitigation efforts created stress that threatened parent and child well-being. Conditions that increase stress within families heighten the likelihood of child abuse, but social support can mitigate the impact. This short-term investigation considered whether cumulative risk, COVID-19 specific risk, and emotional support (one aspect of social support), were associated with child abuse potential during the pandemic. Additionally, we investigated whether emotional support moderated the association between COVID-19 specific risk and child abuse potential, and associations between child abuse potential and emotionally positive and emotionally negative parenting. Participants included 89 parents, from a metropolitan area with a large number of economically distressed families, who completed online questionnaires. COVID-19 specific risk and emotional support each explained additional variance in child abuse potential beyond cumulative risk, but emotional support did not moderate the association between COVID-19 specific risk and child abuse potential. Consistent with expectations, child abuse potential was negatively associated with emotionally positive parenting and positively associated with emotionally negative parenting practices. Results highlight the importance of addressing both risks and supports at multiple levels for parents during times of stress.
- child abuse
- risk factors