Child abuse has become a growing national concern. Its current status can be linked to the research by Kempe who identified the "battered child syndrome". Two models of explanation have been advanced; a medical and a social psychological. This study of 134 cases of child abuse in a small city employes the social psychological model and tests the hypothesis that social isolation is correlated with child abuse. Support for that hypothesis leads to an elaboration of the dynamics of social isolation with an emphasis on the absence of other persons with children from the milieu of the child abuse perpetrator and the consequence of having little knowledge about parenting. The incidents were also found not to be randomly distributed in the community. The characteristics of these areas are examined.

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