Household Food Insecurity and Parent-to-Child Aggression

Jesse J. Helton, Dylan B. Jackson, Brian B. Boutwell, Michael G. Vaughn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Nearly 13 million children in the United States live in households struggling with food insecurity. Although biosocial theories suggest a strong link between the lack of food and child maltreatment, and a handful of studies have established a correlation between nutritional deficits and family violence, it is unclear if household food insecurity itself is associated with physical and psychological child abuse apart from other issues related to poverty. The current study examines this possibility by analyzing data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (n = 2,330). Sixteen percent of households were food insecure, and food insecurity at Wave 3 was associated with an increased use of parent-to-child psychological and physical aggression at the follow-up interview. This relationship held even after controlling for important covariates, such as maternal depression and impulsivity. We conclude by discussing what additional research is required, as well as how our findings might intersect with social policy on this topic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-221
Number of pages9
JournalChild maltreatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • abusive parents
  • aggressive behaviors
  • prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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