How early childhood programs help prevent child abuse and neglect

Study Area

This study will be conducted in New York City. New york city is one of the major cities in the USA, it has a high number of reported cases of child abuse and neglect. It is also an ideal study area since the city has a child abuse and maltreatment center located in Albany. The center maintains a central register for child abuse and maltreatment in which all children displaying signs of maltreatment are registered. Pedagogical and non-pedagogical school personnel as well as state social workers and law enforcement officers are mandated reporters for child associated abuses and/or neglect. The city has child protection services that run various intervention programs among them Healthy Families New York (HFNY) program, Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP), Parent Effectiveness Training (PET) and Parents and Children Together (PACT) program to reduce cases of child abuse and neglect in New York City.

Sources of Data

Both primary and secondary data will be used in this study. Secondary data will be obtained by reviewing early childhood program reports, child abuse and neglect reports, journal articles and other publications. On the other hand, Primary data will be obtained from abused children parents/guardian, and school staff.

Study design

The study will be carried out in three selected counties in the city of New York. To determine the effects of a childhood program on child abuse and neglect, a three-year evaluation of the effectiveness of programs in prevention of child abuse and neglect will be undertaken. A randomized experimental design (Bloom, 2006) will be used, in which subjects will be randomly drawn from the New York City central register for child abuse and maltreatment. Half of the sample is randomized to a treatment group that is willing to be offered an intervention (participation in an early childhood program) and half is randomized to a control group that is unwilling to participate in an intervention program and will be the control. All subjects are expected to adhere to their assigned groups till the completion of the study.


The targeted population for this study will be composed of parents of abused and neglected children. The respondents will be drawn from school teachers, school sports trainers, school managers and parents/guardians. The rationale is that, the school staffs constantly interact with the school children and are likely to notice signs of abuse and are better placed to report the effect of intervention programs impartially. The parents are directly involved in the training programs and are able to give their perceptions on the effect of programs on themselves and their children.


This work selected a sample from the population of the parents with identified child abuse and neglect tendencies within the city. Subjects will be eligible to participate in the study if they meet the following criteria; (a) the child is aged between 5 and 10 years; (b) the parent or guardian is ascertained to be of sound mental health; (c) the parent does not use drugs (d) the parent or guardian has legal custody of the child; and (e) the parent /guardian will give written consent for the child to be used in the study (NCPHSBBR, 1979). The following formula as outlined by Kothari (2004) was employed to come up an appropriate sample for the study.


Where n is the sample size

z = standard variate at a given confidence level (= 0.05)

e =acceptable error (precision)

δ = standard deviation of the population

Z = 1.96, e = 0.05, δ=0.29

Standard deviation is estimated from previous studies.

Sampling Procedure

Multi stage sampling procedure (Snijders, 2001) will be used to select the respondents from the New York City central register for child abuse and maltreatment. The first stage will involve purposive selection (Ma, 2007) of respondents from three counties of New York City purposely selected to represent the major ethnicities; African American, white Caucasian and Hispanic. Then second stage will employ simple random sampling to select proportional number of participants from each of the three selected counties as shown in the formula below and sample from the counties constituted as shown in table 1

………………………………………………………………….….. (2)

Where z is the proportion of sample from county x

x1, x2, x3 = populations of each county

n = sample size (see equation 1 above)

Table 1: Calculation of proportionate sample size

Strata Population Sample
County 1 x1
County 2 x2
County 3 x3
Total ∑x1+x2+x3 n

The potential participants selected using the above selection criteria (Parents who had been identified for child abuse and neglecting behavior from the New York City central register for child abuse and neglect) plus an additional 30 percent of the calculated sample size will participate in the study in order to cater for subjects who will drop out of the study and spoilt questionnaires. The selected subjects will be assigned randomly to two groups; one group will be randomly assigned to participate in an early childhood intervention program and the other group will not participate in any program and will be the control. Those that will be assigned to participate in a childhood program will randomly be assigned to any of the three leading childhood intervention programs running within New York City.

Data Collection

Secondary data and other relevant information will be collected from social workers reports, journals, publications and others. Primary data will be collected by direct observation and use of questionnaires. Identification and recruitment of subjects for the study will begin in March 2013 and end in August 2013. After the initial screening, a research assistant will arrange to meet with the potential study participant in their home to provide information about the nature of the study, what would be expected of them, their right to refuse or end participation in the research, and the procedures for protecting the confidentiality of the information provided besides explaining the intervention programs available after which the subjects are supposed to indicate their willingness to take part in a program or not. The research assistant will get a written consent from the subject expressing their willingness to take part in the study. The consenting subjects will be assigned to their various groups as indicated in the sampling procedure. Direct observation will be used to see if the children whose parents participate in the study show any signs of abuse/ neglect before, during after their parents complete the program or during the entire study period for the control group. Three sets of questionnaires will be used to collect information; one for the parents self-evaluation, one for school personnel in direct contact with children whose parents participate in the program and the other for social workers in charge of monitoring abused/neglected children. The parents of subjects will be interviewed for demographic information and about their perception of the benefits of the program using likert scale techniques (Allen and Seaman, 2007). Likert scale will be used to estimate perception of the parents, teachers and social workers about the effectiveness of the programs in reducing cases of childhood abuse and neglect. Predetermined opinions will be presented to the respondents and the likert scaling technique used to rate the opinions. Each opinion will be given a scale of one to five such as strongly agree will take a scale of 5, agree a scale of 4, no idea a scale of 3, disagree a scale of 2, and strongly disagree a scale of 1.The school teacher’s questionnaire will focus on the perception of teachers on the effectiveness of the programs in reducing cases of child abuse and neglect and also the cognitive abilities of children which make up the potential benefits of the programs. Whereas the third questionnaire, seeks to rank programs in terms of effectiveness in reducing child abuse and neglect.

Data Analysis and Procedure

Only data from parents who participate in a program to the end of the designated period will be considered valid and used in the analysis. Descriptive analysis will be used for characteristics of the respondents (Miles and Huberman, 1994) and correlation analysis to correlate benefits with the treatments. The statistical package for social scientists (SPSS) computer software will be used to generate summary statistics. The means for any of the treated samples will be compared with the means for untreated control.


Allen, E., and Seaman, C. A. 2007.Likert Scales and Data Analyses.Quality Progress, 40, 64-65.

Bloom, H.S. 2006.The Core Analytics of Randomized Experimentsfor Social Research.MDRC Working Papers on Research Methodology. Available:

Kothari, C.R. 2004. Research methodology: methods and techniques(2nd edition). New age international (P) Limited. New delhi.

Ma, D.C.T. 2007.Purposive Sampling as a Tool for Informant Selection.Ethnobotany Research and Applications, 5:147-158

Miles, M.B andHuberman, A.M.1994. Qualitative data analysis. London: Sage Publications.

National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. 1979. The Belmont Report. Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research. Washington, DC: National Institutes of Health,. Available:

Snijders, T.A.B. 2001.sampling. available:


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