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Ecological Systems Theory & Child Abuse

Autor:   •  December 7, 2016  •  Research Paper  •  1,002 Words (5 Pages)  •  581 Views

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Ecological Systems Theory & Child Abuse

Adam Wepner

Human Lifespan Development

Unit 3 Assignment

Capella University



Ecological systems theory consists of multiple sections that are intertwined and affect the way we develop through life. How we define these sections and how they are related to adulthood and child abuse. Will an abused child become the abuser? And how are these relationships related bi-directionally.

Ecological Systems Theory & Child Abuse

I chose to look into child abuse and neglect due to my own personal history with the subject. I was often beat as a child and I know that being treated in such a negative way has impacted me as an adult. So I chose to explore how ecological systems theory addresses that issue.


According to Berk (2013), the microsystem is an individual’s immediate surroundings. These immediate surroundings consist of our family; parents and siblings, as well as our daycare or school. Berk (2013) also states that children affect an adult’s response to them by the way the child behaves. But children also behave a certain way based on the treatment given to them by adults. So if a child behaves well it shows they are being shown positive behavior and therefore due to the bidirectional nature of these relationships we can also say that a positively behaved child will receive more positive treatment from the adults. Negative treatment would lead to negative behavior and vice versa. This is also where mothers and fathers marriage being in constant turmoil affects the child. If parents are encouraging each other the child will have more engaged parents, where if the marriage is struggling the child will experience negative parenting including possibly yelling, beating, smacking and other such abuse which would lead to fear, or anxiety (Berk, 2013).  But ecological systems theory has more than one related system that would be responsible for child abuse and relate to that following through to adulthood.


The Mesosystem is the next layer of ecological systems theory and includes how the microsystems are interconnected. So if we look at a child going to daycare, their behavior would be based on how much involvement the parents from the microsystem are involved. Just as an adult would exhibit different behaviors based on their received treatment while at work or school. If there is a bad day or not enough support from the family then the adult would show signs of being stressed at work. But the other side is that non-supportive behavior exhibited at work could carry back into the home (Berk, 2013).  So in the case of child abuse we know that if we are shown abuse by any of the microsystem components we carry that through to the mesosystem. So if my parents abused me does this mean I would be abusive towards my own children? Possibly, but according to a recent study, children of physically abused parents are not as likely to be abused. However, the study suggests that while these kids may not being physically abused by their parents who were physically abused by their grandparents are more likely to be neglected and sexually abused (Whitener, 2015).


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