When Bigger Is Better: Household Size, Abuse Injuries, Neglect, and Family Response in Novosibirsk, Russia

Clifton R. Emery, Tatiana Eremina, Carmen Arenas, Jaeyop Kim, Ko Ling Edward Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Although previous research has demonstrated larger households to be at higher risk of physical abuse and neglect of children, we argue that unilateral conceptualization of larger households as a risk factor is inappropriate. Application of resource dilution theory must capture the possibility that larger families may have more members with both the agency and will to intervene against child maltreatment. We hypothesized a negative interaction between household size and protective informal social control by family members in predicting abuse injuries and neglect. A three-stage probability proportional to size cluster sample representative of Novosibirsk, Russia, was collected from 306 cohabiting couples. One parent in each household was interviewed. A focal child was selected using most recent birthday. When responses limited to families with minor children (below age 18) were selected, 172 families remained in the data. Physical abuse and neglect were measured using the Conflict Tactics Scales (CTS). Protective informal social control by family members was measured using the Informal Social Control of Child Maltreatment (ISC_CM) Scale. Models were tested using random effects regression and logistic regression. Nearly 7% of focal children were injured in the last year, 10% were neglected. Consistent with previous research, protective informal social control was associated with lower odds of injury and fewer instances of neglect. The significant negative interaction between household size and protective control is consistent with the idea that larger households may be protective when adult family members intervene against maltreatment to protect children. Replication and further investigation of protective ISC_CM in Western populations is much needed. Future research should not conceptualize or measure household size as a unilateral risk factor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1035–1051
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • household size
  • informal social control
  • injury
  • ISC
  • neglect
  • physical child abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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