Reducing risk for children in changing cultural contexts: Recommendations for intervention and training

D. Roer-Strier*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Objectives: This paper proposes guidelines to both parents and professionals for the prevention and reduction of risk associated with cultural differences, conflicts and misinterpretations. These guidelines are based on a conceptual framework derived from the multicultural reality of Israeli society and are supported by a growing corpus of studies on cross-cultural child development, immigration and minority families. Method: The paper is based on a conceptual model followed by practical implications for training and intervention. Results: Central to this paper is the concept of the 'adaptive adult' which serves as a guiding metaphor for the organization of socialization goals, child-rearing ideologies, perceptions and values of socializing agents in a given culture or group. Childcare practices are defined as adaptive strategies, that is, means for socializing children to become 'successful adults.' The paper describes different types of 'adaptive adult' metaphor (e.g., past and future oriented), and discusses images held by groups who have experienced either a duality of private and public culture or changes in their cultural contexts. The paper further explores and exemplifies the potential contributions of the proposed framework for a five step intervention plan with parents and for training of professionals in multicultural contexts. Conclusions: Children of families in changing cultural contexts are often considered to be at risk for maltreatment. This is because such families may experience sociocultural and socioeconomic change and a loss of their former support networks. Parental acculturation stress and related dysfunction might also affect children. The risk increases when children are exposed to systems with conflicting socialization goals and with contradictory definitions of desirable child-care or supervision frameworks. Conflicts and clashes between parents and socializing agents have been found to have long-term detrimental effects on children and families. Cultural differences may also result in misinterpretation of parental behaviors and misdiagnosis of abuse and neglect. Such conflicts and misinterpretations can be avoided if both parents and social agents learn to understand and to respect their cultural differences, so that together, they can devise ways to bridge them.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)231-248
Number of pages18
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • 'Adaptive adult'
  • Cultural change
  • Prevention and intervention
  • Risk


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