Skip to main content

Neighborhood social capital and infant physical abuse: a population-based study in Japan



We sought to investigate the relationship between neighborhood social capital and infant physical abuse using a population-based sample of women with 4-month-old infants in Japan.


A questionnaire was administered to women who participated in a 4-month health checkup program (n = 1277; valid response rate, 80 %). We inquired about their perceptions of the level of trust in their neighborhood (an indicator of “social capital”) as well as the availability of support from their personal social networks. Infant physical abuse during the past month was assessed by self-reports of spanking, shaking or smothering.


The prevalence of infant physical abuse at 4 months of age was 9.0 % (95 % confidence interval [CI], 7.6–10.7 %). Women living in trusting neighborhoods were less likely to report infant physical abuse compared to those living in areas with low neighborhood trust (odds ratio [OR] 0.25, 95 % CI 0.06–0.97). In addition, women with supportive social networks were less likely to report infant physical abuse (OR 0.59, 95 % CI 0.36–0.99).


In addition to one’s personal social network, social trust in the neighborhood was independently associated with lowered risk of infant physical abuse. To prevent infant abuse, interventions should consider strengthening community social bonds in addition to strengthening the social network of isolated mothers.


Child abuse is associated with a host of adverse outcomes including developmental delay [1, 2], poor academic performance [3, 4], mental disorders [5, 6], asthma [7, 8], obesity [9], cardiovascular disease [10], and even premature mortality later in adult life [11]. Moreover, the timing of child abuse is crucial [1214]; the impact of child abuse is greater if abuse occurs at earlier developmental stages, such as infancy, due to the fragility of the infant brain as well as accumulation of damage over time [1517].

The prevention of infant abuse depends on the identification of modifiable risk factors. Well-established risk factors for child abuse include young maternal age [18, 19], multiple births [20], low birth weight [21], maternal mental disorder, and parental history of childhood abuse [22]. In terms of the risk factors associated with the social environment, several studies have investigated the role of social support [2328], and several studies examined the impact of neighborhood environment (i.e., contextual effect of neighborhood social environment on infant abuse) [2935]. More precisely, the majority of the studies that have investigated the contextual effect of neighborhood social environment on child abuse focused on social disadvantages. For example, association with poverty or unemployment rate [30, 31], availability of child care or education resources [32], and even previous drug market activities [33], were used as objective measures of neighborhood social environment. In terms of the association with child abuse, perceived social disorder has been used as a subjective measure on neighborhood [34, 35]. The contextual effect of social disadvantage is important; however, social disadvantage is difficult to modify. Therefore, other social factors which are modifiable, such as social network or social capital within neighborhood [36], should instead be examined.

For the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, Molnar and colleagues examined the impact of neighborhood-level factors on the risk of parent-to-child physical aggression using three-level hierarchical linear models [37]. The authors found that a higher concentration of immigrants living in the neighborhood had significant protective effects on parent-to-child physical aggression after controlling child- and family-level factors, and the size of the social network (i.e., having a higher numbers of friends or relatives in the neighborhood) was significantly inversely associated with parent-to-child physical aggression, although only for Hispanic families. An important characteristic related to the concept of social networks is that of neighborhood social capital.

Social capital is defined as the resources acquired by individuals via their social networks in the community, school, work or other social settings [38]. A community with high social capital, for example, includes members who frequently assist each other and swap favors. A high degree of interpersonal trust in the social network is necessary for reciprocal cooperation to occur (i.e., a person trusts that the recipient of their favor will later reciprocate in kind in the future) [38]. Thus, social trust in the community is a core construct in neighborhood social capital. Previous studies reported a protective effect of social capital on child abuse and neglect [3941]. Vinson et al. [40] reported that officially confirmed child abuse cases were spatially clustered, and that areas with high clustering were those in which residents reported a lack of attachment to their neighborhood, as well as few local friendships. Kim et al. [41] found that maternal community involvement and perceptions were inversely associated with their maltreatment behaviors, defined as psychological aggression, physical assault, and neglect. However, these studies did not examine physical abuse among infants using a population-based sample. Further, the impact of social capital (i.e., neighborhood environment) was not examined simultaneously with the impact of personal social networks. Social capital might have an independent effect regardless of the status of an individual’s social network.

Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate the association between social capital and infant physical abuse using a population-based sample of women with 4-month-old infants in Japan.



Details of this study have been published elsewhere [42]. In brief, we targeted all women (n = 1594) who were invited to participate in a 4-month health checkup program between June 2010 and January 2012 in Kamagaya City in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. Located near Tokyo, Kamagaya City’s population was 106,000 in 2010, and approximately 1000 births are recorded per year. A questionnaire was delivered to the target group via postal mail, and women handed in their completed surveys at each health checkup visit. In total, 1334 women responded to the questionnaire (response rate, 84 %). Our study was approved by the ethics committee of the National Institute for Public Health, Saitama, Japan. Ethics committee at National Center for Child Health and Development approved this study.


Infant physical abuse

Infant physical abuse was measured as a maternal self-report of spanking, shaking, or smothering at least once during the past 1 month. Spanking was assessed by the question: “In the past month, how many times did you spank your baby when he/she was crying?” for which the responses ranged from “0 times,” “1 or 2 times,” “3–5 times,” “6–10 times,” and “11 or more times.” Shaking was assessed by the question: “In the past month, how many times did you violently shake your baby when he/she was crying?” for which the same response options were included. Smothering was assessed by the question: “In the past month, how many times have you smothered the mouth of your baby when crying, using your hands, a cushion, etc. during the past month?” with the same response categories. Mothers who responded with either spanking, shaking, or smothering their child one time or more were categorized as positive for infant physical abuse. As the questionnaire was anonymous, we could not refer positive response cases to child protection services.

Measurement of social capital

Social capital was assessed by perceived neighborhood trust and social support received from one’s personal social network. Perceived trust was assessed by the following question: “Do you think that people in your neighborhood trust each other?” with a 4-point Likert scale response, as follows: “Yes”, “Somewhat agree”, “Somewhat disagree”, and “No”. According to the responses, women were categorized as having high, middle-high, middle-low, or low neighborhood trust. Community-based social support was assessed by the following two questions: “Do you have someone to consult with in the community?” and “Do you have someone who can help you with child rearing in the community?” If women answered “yes” to one of these two questions, they were categorized as “having a supportive social network in the community”.


Questions on household characteristics (marital status, living together with grandparents or others, annual household income) and infant characteristics (sex, birth order, birth weight) were also included in the 4-month questionnaire. Annual household income was assessed by the following response categories: “≤2 million yen” (approximately USD 20,000), “2.1–4 million yen,” “4.1–6 million yen,” “6.1–8 million yen,” “8.1–10 million yen,” “10–15 million yen,” “15.1 million yen or more”, and “no answer”. Due to the distribution, the categories “8.1–10 million yen,” “10–15 million yen,” and “15.1 million yen or more” were collapsed for further analysis. The minimum/lowest income category, ≤2 million yen, was defined based on 50 % or lower of the median of average equivalent national household income [43].


We conducted a complete case analysis, i.e., complete responses to the questions about infant physical abuse and social capital indicators (n = 1277). The associations between infant physical abuse and social capital were analyzed using multiple logistic regression, adjusted for covariates (model 1), and simultaneously adjusted for neighborhood social capital indicators (model 2). All analyses were conducted using Stata/MP v12.0 software (StataCorp LP, College Station, TX, USA).


Table 1 shows the demographic characteristics of the study participants. The overall point prevalence of infant abuse was 9.0 % at 4 months. Most women were married (98.3 %), and not living with grandparents or relatives (89.2 %). For annual household income, 57.4 % of responders earned more than 4.1 million yen. Half of the infants were boys (50.4 %) and the firstborn child in the family (48.8 %). Low birth weight infants accounted for 9.2 % of the sample. Only three sets of twins (0.3 %) were identified in the sample.

Table 1 Characteristics of sample

Table 2 describes the sample according to social capital indicators. Approximately 60 % of the participants perceived their level of neighborhood trust as middle-high or high. With regard to community-based social networks, the proportion of women with “someone to consult in the community” was 83.7 %, while the proportion of those with “someone to help with child rearing in the community” was 73.9 %; thus, 85.2 % of participants had access to either one or both types of supportive network.

Table 2 Characteristics of social capital and social network (N = 1277)

Table 3 presents the results of the logistic regression models. In the crude model, mothers who perceived higher neighborhood trust in their community were significantly less likely to abuse their infants. This association remained significant in model 1, which was adjusted for demographics, and in model 2, which was further adjusted for community-based social networks. Mothers who perceived high neighborhood trust were 75 % less likely to physically abuse their infant (OR 95 % CI 0.25, 0.06–0.97) compared to those who perceived low neighborhood trust in their community. Further, mothers who reported having supportive social networks in their community were significantly less likely to abuse their infant, even after adjusting for demographics and perceived neighborhood trust in model 2 (OR 0.59; 95 %CI 0.36–0.99).

Table 3 Odds ratio of social capital and social network for infant abuse (N = 1277)


Our findings suggest that community social capital—as measured by perceptions of trust among neighbors, and the presence of supportive networks in the community—is protective of mother-to-infant physical aggression. Further, perceived neighborhood trust was protectively associated with infant physical abuse independent of the availability of supportive social networks in the community.

Our findings corroborate those of previous studies. Coohey [44] examined the relationship between different types of child maltreatment (physical abuse and neglect, only physical abuse, and only neglect), and womens’ social support in three components: structural properties, perceived support, and received support. The research targeted 150 maltreated women who attended a parenting class after child protection services became involved with their family and compared them with 150 mothers recruited via public schools in the community. The study found that mothers who both physically abused and neglected their children, and mothers who only neglected their children, were associated with having fewer members in their social networks and lower perceptions of support from their networks. Lower availability of emotional resources was associated with all three types of maltreatment. Williamson et al. [45] also reported that mothers reporting physical abuse or neglect of their child had lower levels of tangible social support and appraisal social support compared to mothers who did not maltreat their children. Neglectful parenting was found to have a significant inverse association with social capital, which was measured using neighborhood characteristics, willingness to take personal action, regular religious service attendance, and having a partner in the home [39].

Several mechanisms can be put forward as to why community social capital is protective of infant physical abuse [46]. First, psychosocial stress is lower among mothers living in a high social capital community. Strong bonds of mutual aid and reciprocity between neighbors can serve as a type of buffer in the event of crises and emergencies. Second, information about healthy child-rearing practices are more likely to diffuse quickly within cohesive networks, for example, how to appropriately deal with infants in distress, which is an important trigger for infant abuse. Thirdly, more cohesive communities may be better able to enforce healthy child-rearing norms, and they may be more effective in mobilizing appropriate resources, such as timely referral to social agencies when there is evidence of child abuse.

Our study has several limitations. First, we did not conduct a sociometric analysis of participants; our analyses are based on an assessment of ego-centered networks. To gain a better understanding of maternal social network resources, ideally we need to inquire about the amount and frequency of contact with network members, as well as the physical proximity of network members who could provide support during times of need. Secondly, we used only one item to assess perceived neighborhood trust. A more comprehensive approach to studying neighborhood social capital would assess other constructs such as collective efficacy and enforcement of norms, and examine the impact of social capital within a multi-level framework. Thirdly, experiences of infant physical abuse were self-reported and recalled from the time period of the infant’s birth until 4 months of age, and the severity of the outcomes were not assessed. Lastly, women who did not attend regular health check-ups were not evaluated in this study, thus our results might have underestimated the associations described.

In Japan, infants aged less than 1 year make up 42 % of fatalities caused by child maltreatment, and physical abuse is the leading cause of fatalities in this age group [47]. Our findings point to the potential promise of strengthening community bonds to prevent the occurrence of child abuse. One approach to strengthen community social capital is via home-visit programs conducted by health professionals or peer volunteers [48], especially targeting isolated mothers.

Alternatively, establishing community-based peer support groups for mothers with young children might be effective. In the elderly population in Japan, the establishment of community centers—known as “salons”—has been shown to be effective in strengthening community bonds [49]. Regular well-baby health checkups are a crucial window of opportunity for health professionals to assess women’s social networks and access to community-based support. This kind of assessment could be built into the collection of data that are already being gathered during antenatal visits to public health centers in Japan, which also provide screening for high-risk mothers.

Public health nurses can provide peer-support programs for mothers with few social networks. Dennis et al. [50] conducted a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of peer support in the prevention of postpartum depression, and reported that telephone-based peer support might be effective in preventing postpartum depression. Further, they have shown that mothers endorsed emotional support (range 91.0–94.0 %), informational support (61.1–86.1 %), and appraisal support (48.0–92.5 %) [51]. In addition to home visits, peer support in the community may bolster social capital for isolated mothers.

Furthermore, neighborhood-based strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect, such as the “Strong Communities for Children” initiative in South Carolina in the United States [52, 53], might be effective. Based on its key message that a sense of collective responsibility among all people in the community can protect children [52], Strong Communities recruited volunteers and community organizations, and boosted various neighborhood activities to let residents “naturally” observe and respond to the needs of young families [54]. Through these activities, cases of child maltreatment and injuries indicative of maltreatment declined, positive parenting was observed, and low-resource communities experienced a greater level of mobilization, and enhanced reciprocal relationships between neighbors as well as a perception of household safety for neighborhood children [52]. These comprehensive community strategies should be considered, because communities with higher trust among neighbors may prevent infant physical abuse by mothers with limited social networks.


In addition to one’s personal social network, social trust in the neighborhood was independently associated with lowered risk of infant physical abuse. To prevent infant abuse, interventions should consider strengthening community social bonds in addition to strengthening the social network of isolated mothers.



odds ratio


confidence interval


  1. Lansford JE, Dodge KA, Pettit GS, Bates JE, Crozier J, Kaplow J. A 12-year prospective study of the long-term effects of early child physical maltreatment on psychological, behavioral, and academic problems in adolescence. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002;156(8):824–30.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Hildyard KL, Wolfe DA. Child neglect: developmental issues and outcomes. Child Abuse Negl. 2002;26(6–7):679–95.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Naughton AM, Maguire SA, Mann MK, Lumb RC, Tempest V, Gracias S, Kemp AM. Emotional, behavioral, and developmental features indicative of neglect or emotional abuse in preschool children. A systematic review. JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(8):769–75.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Coohey C, Renner LM, Hua L, Zhang YJ, Whitney SD. Academic achievement despite child maltreatment: a longitudinal study. Child Abuse Negl. 2011;35(9):689–99.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Norman RE, Byambaa M, De R, Butchart A, Scott J, Vos T. The long-term health consequences of child physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS Med. 2012;9(11):e1101349.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Fujiwara T, Kawakami N. World Mental Health Japan Survey G: association of childhood adversities with the first onset of mental disorders in Japan: results from the World Mental Health Japan, 2002–2004. J Psychiatr Res. 2011;45(4):481–7.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Scott KM, Smith DA, Ellis PM. A Population study of childhood maltreatment and asthma diagnosis: differential associations between child protection database versus retrospective self-reported data. Psychosom Med. 2012;74:814–23.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Lanier P, Jonson-Reid M, Stahlschmidt MJ, Drake B, Constantion J. Child maltreatment and pediatric health outcomes: a longitudinal study of low-income children. J Pediatr Psychol. 2010;35(5):511–22.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Danese A, Tan M. Childhood maltreatment and obesity: systematic review and meta-analysis. Mol Psychiatry. 2014;19(5):544–54.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Felitti VJ, Anda RF, Nordenberg D, Williamson DF, Spitz AM, Edwards V, Koss MP, Marks JS. Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. Am J Prev Med. 1998;14(4):245–58.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Brown DW, Anda RF, Tiemeier H, Felitti VJ, Edwards VJ, Croft JB, Giles WH. Adverse childhood experiences and the risk of premature mortality. Am J Prev Med. 2009;37(5):389–96.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Thompson R, Tabone JK. The impact of early alleged maltreatment on behavioral trajectories. Child Abuse Negl. 2010;34(12):907–16.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Keiley MK, Howe TR, Dodge KA, Bates JE, Petti GS. The timing of child physical maltreatment: a cross-domain growth analysis of impact on adolescent externalizing and internalizing problems. Dev Psychopathol. 2001;13(4):891–912.

    PubMed Central  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Sheridan M, Drury S, McLaughlin K, Almas A. Early institutionalization: neurobiological consequences and genetic modifiers. Neuropsychol Rev. 2010;20(4):414–29.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Teicher MH, Andersen SL, Polcari A, Anderson CM, Navalta CP, Kim DM. The neurobiological consequences of early stress and childhood maltreatment. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2003;27(1–2):33–44.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Twardosz SLJ. Child maltreatment and the developing brain: a review of neuroscience perspectives. Aggression Violent Behav. 2010;15(1):59–68.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Andersen SL, Tomada A, Vincow ES, Valente E, Polcari A, Teicher MH. Preliminary evidence for sensitive periods in the effect of childhood sexual abuse on regional brain development. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2008;20(3):292–301.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Herman-Giddens ME, Smith JB, Mittal M, Carlson M, Butts JD. Newborns killed or left to die by a parent: a population-based study. JAMA. 2003;289(11):1425–9.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Brown J, Cohen P, Johnson JG, Salzinger S. A longitudinal analysis of risk factors for child maltreatment: findings of a 17-year prospective study of officially recorded and self-reported child abuse and neglect. Child Abuse Negl. 1998;22(11):1065–78.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Lang CA, Cox MJ, Flores G. Maltreatment in multiple-birth children. Child Abuse Negl. 2013;37(12):1109–13.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Wu SS, Ma CX, Carter RL, Ariet M, Feaver EA, Resnick MB, Roth J. Risk factors for infant maltreatment: a population-based study. Child Abuse Negl. 2004;28(12):1253–64.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Keenan HT, Runyan DK, Marshall SW, Nocera MA, Merten DF, Sinal SH. A population-based study of inflicted traumatic brain injury in young children. JAMA. 2003;290(5):621–6.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Sidebotham P, Heron J. Child maltreatment in the “children of the nineties”: a cohort study of risk factors. Child Abuse Negl. 2006;30(5):497–522.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Stith SM, Liu T, Davies LC, Boykin EL, Alder MC, Harris JM, Som A, McPherson M, Dees JE. Risk factors in child maltreatment: a meta-analytic review of the literature. Aggression Violent Behav. 2009;14(1):13–29.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Kotch JB, Browne DC, Dufort V, Winsor J. Predicting child maltreatment in the first 4 years of life from characteristics assessed in the neonatal period. Child Abuse Negl. 1999;23(4):305–19.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Kang J. Instrumental social support, material hardship, personal control and neglectful parenting. Children Youth Serv Rev. 2013;35(9):1366–73.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Seagull EA. Social support and child maltreatment: a review of the evidence. Child Abuse Negl. 1987;11(1):41–52.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. Black DA, Heyman RE, Slep AMS. Risk factors for child physical abuse. Aggression Violent Behav. 2001;6(2–3):121–88.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Maguire-Jack K. Multilevel investigation into the community context of child maltreatment. J Aggression, Maltreat Trauma. 2014;23(3):229–48.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Coulton CJ, Crampton DS, Irwin M, Spilsbury JC, Korbin JE. How neighborhoods influence child maltreatment: a review of the literature and alternative pathways. Child Abuse Negl. 2007;31(11–12):1117–42.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Freisthler B, Merritt DH, LaScala EA. Understanding the ecology of child maltreatment: a review of the literature and directions for future research. Child maltreat. 2006;11(3):263–80.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Klein S. The availability of neighborhood early care and education resources and the maltreatment of young children. Child maltreat. 2011;16(4):300–11.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Freisthler B, Kepple NJ, Holmes MR. The geography of drug market activities and child maltreatment. Child maltreat. 2012;17(2):144–52.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Gracia E, Herrero J. Perceived neighborhood social disorder and residents’ attitudes toward reporting child physical abuse. Child Abuse Negl. 2006;30(4):357–65.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. Guterman NB, Lee SJ, Taylor CA, Rathouz PJ. Parental perceptions of neighborhood processes, stress, personal control, and risk for physical child abuse and neglect. Child Abuse Negl. 2009;33(12):897–906.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Leventhal T, Brooks-Gunn J. The neighborhoods they live in: the effects of neighborhood residence on child and adolescent outcomes. Psychol Bull. 2000;126(2):309–37.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. Molnar BE, Buka SL, Brennan RT, Holton JK, Earls F. A multilevel study of neighborhoods and parent-to-child physical aggression: results from the project on human development in Chicago neighborhoods. Child maltreat. 2003;8(2):84–97.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Fujiwara T, Kubzansky LD, Matsumoto K, Kawachi I. The association between oxytocin and social capital. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(12):e52018.

    PubMed Central  Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. Zolotor AJ, Runyan DK. Social capital, family violence, and neglect. Pediatrics. 2006;117(6):e1124–31.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. Vinson T, Baldry E. The Spatial Clustering of Child Maltreatment: Are Micro-social Environments Involved? Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice Report No119. 1999:1–6.

  41. Kim B, MaguireJack K. Community interaction and child maltreatment. Child Abuse Negl. 2013;41:146–57.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  42. Yamada F, Fujiwara T. Prevalence of self-reported shaking and smothering and their associations with co-sleeping among 4-month-old infants in Japan. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014;11(6):6485–93.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. Comprehensive survey of living conditions [].

  44. Coohey C. Child maltreatment: testing the social isolation hypothesis. Child Abuse Negl. 1996;20(3):241–54.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  45. Williamson JM, Borduin CM, Howe BA. The ecology of adolescent maltreatment: a multilevel examination of adolescent physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. J Consulting Clin Psychol. 1991;59(3):449–57.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  46. Kawachi I, Berkman LF. Social capital, social cohesion, and health. In: Berkman LF, Kawachi I, Glymour MM, editors. Soical epidemiology. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 2014. p. 290–319.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Ministry of Health Labor and Welfare. 10th Report on fatal child maltreatment. 2014. In.; 2014.

  48. Fujiwara T, Natsume K, Okuyama M, Sato T, Kawachi I. Do home-visit programs for mothers with infants reduce parenting stress and increase social capital in Japan? J Epidemiol Community Health. 2012;66(12):1167–76.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  49. Ichida Y, Hirai H, Kondo K, Kawachi I, Takeda T, Endo H. Does social participation improve self-rated health in the older population? A quasi-experimental intervention study. Social sci Med. 1982;2013(94):83–90.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Dennis CL, Hodnett E, Kenton L, Weston J, Zupancic J, Stewart DE, Kiss A. Effect of peer support on prevention of postnatal depression among high risk women: multisite randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 2009;338:a3064.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  51. Dennis CL. Postpartum depression peer support: maternal perceptions from a randomized controlled trial. Int J Nurs Stud. 2010;47(5):560–8.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  52. McLeigh JD, McDonell JR, Melton GB. Community differences in the implementation of Strong Communities for Children. Child Abuse Negl. 2014;41:97–112.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  53. Daro D, Dodge KA. Creating community responsibility for child protection: possibilities and challenges. Future Child. 2009;19(2):67–93.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  54. Melton GB. How strong communities restored faith in my humanity: Children can live in safety. In: Dodge KA, DLC, editors. Preventing child maltreatment. New York: Guilford Press; 2009. p. 82–101.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Authors’ contributions

TF conceived, conducted, analyzed, and wrote first draft, YY reviewed literature and edited manuscript, IK finalized the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This study was partially supported by grants from Grant-in-aid for Young Scientists (B) Scientific Research, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (KAKENHI 21790593) and Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (H23-Seisaku-Ippan-005). We thank Ms. Emma Barber for her editorial assistance.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Takeo Fujiwara.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Fujiwara, T., Yamaoka, Y. & Kawachi, I. Neighborhood social capital and infant physical abuse: a population-based study in Japan. Int J Ment Health Syst 10, 13 (2016).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI:


  • Child abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Shaken baby syndrome
  • Smothering
  • Spanking