Familial financial stress and child internalizing behaviors: The roles of caregivers’ maltreating behaviors and social services

Yuerong Liu, Darcey Merritt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Based on the family stress model and the stress-buffering model, the present study examines the relationship between caregivers’ financial stress and child internalizing problem behaviors, the mediating role of caregiver maltreating behaviors, and whether social services for caregivers buffer this relationship. The current study is based on data from wave two of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being dataset (N = 2670). Results indicated increased high familial financial stress was associated with child internalizing problems. Caregivers’ psychological aggression, physical assault, child neglect, and sexual maltreatment emerged as mechanisms mediating this relationship. Tangible service and social network service were found to mitigate the deleterious effect of financial stress on child internalizing behaviors, but primarily for those whom financial stress was high. These findings highlight the role perceived financial stress has on potential maltreatment and child outcomes, rather than relying on objective measures of economic status. Implications for social services focused interventions for children and caregivers coping with high levels of perceived financial stress are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • Family stress model
  • Financial stress
  • Internalizing behavior
  • Maltreatment
  • Social service

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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