Rapid repeat pregnancy (RRP) often occurs in teenage and young mothers. Mothers with a history of RRP are more likely to experience high stress increasing their risk of child maltreatment. Despite these challenges, some mothers can continue to cope adaptively. Social support may play a role in empowering these mothers to overcome the childbearing difficulties. Although the protective effects of social support are well recognized, there has been little evidence on the relative importance of sources of support. For example, whether support from family and friends is equally important in relieving parenting stress remains unanswered. RRP, a social phenomenon encompassing various adverse living and parenting issues, provides an ideal research context to investigate the role of family and friends in preventing child maltreatment. This study examined whether family cohesion and friends’ support moderated the association between RRP and child maltreatment in young mothers. We recruited 392 Chinese teenage and young mothers from a population-based integrated young mothers supporting program in Hong Kong. Questionnaires on pregnancy history, family cohesion, social support, and risk of child maltreatment were administered. Moderation analysis was conducted to examine the effect of RRP on child maltreatment as a function of family cohesion or friend support. Results showed that RRP was associated with a higher risk of child neglect (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.72, p <.05) and physical maltreatment (aOR = 1.91, p <.01), and that family cohesion was more important than friend support in mitigating the risk of child maltreatment for mothers with a history of RRP. Our findings suggest that interventions for young mothers, particularly those with a history of RRP, should be family-based so the whole family can be empowered to tackle the childrearing burden.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors acknowledge Caritas Hong Kong—Project Hyacinth who have helped recruit eligible mothers in this study. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
© The Author(s) 2020.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Applied Psychology