Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

John R. Lutzker, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Daniel J. Whitaker, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kate Guastaferro, M.P.H


Child maltreatment is a critical public health problem with risk factors that directly hinder the quality of interactions between parent and child. These interactions, guided by the quality of parenting behaviors, form the foundation through which a child develops physically, psychologically, and emotionally. This study examined the quality of 12 parenting behaviors during interactive play between parent and child and their association to the potential of child maltreatment with the interactive effect of demographic variables. It was hypothesized that poor interactive parenting behaviors between parent and child would be associated with higher maltreatment potential. Participants were 99 high-risk families drawn from the first cohort of an ongoing cluster randomized research trial. The 12 parenting behaviors and their interaction with family demographic characteristics were not predictive of the potential for child maltreatment among participant families. Although, the proposed hypothesis was not supported, the findings suggest the need for further investigation of other familial factors influencing maltreatment potential among participant families.