And the survey says …

OSU professors seek assistance from county parents

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — Are you the parent or a guardian of a child 12 years of age or younger? Can the child read English? Do you live in Shelby County?

If you answered yes to the questions, then Ohio State University is looking for you to take a survey.

“The Sidney-Shelby County YMCA was approached by two professors from Ohio State University regarding a survey they are conducting,” said Ed Thomas, executive director. “They were hoping that several of our member families as well as eligible families in the community would fill out the survey.”

The study, “The Rural Neighborhood Study,” is being conducted by Dr. Kathryn Maguire-Jack. The sponsor of the survey is the Ohio State University College of Social Work. The goal of the study is to learn about parenting and family life in rural Ohio.

Maguire-Jack, who is a professor at OSU, wants to know how the environment of a neighborhood affect how a parent treats their child/children. She is conducting the survey with Dr. Bridget Freisthler.

“We selected Shelby County for three reasons: (1) it is a rural county in Ohio; (2) we were familiar with the county as one of the co-investigators on the project is from there [Dr. Bridget Freisthler]; and (3) Ed Thomas at the YMCA is a leader in supporting families in the state and served as a natural partner,” said Maguire-Jack.

She said the purpose of the survey is to learn more about parents who live in rural areas.

“We are interested in learning more about how parents thrive in rural areas,” she said. “We know that there are fewer services and that there are transportation barriers for families, and we also know that the relationships between families and friends within rural areas tend to be stronger and that people tend to rely on these informal sources for support.

“We want to gain a better understanding of the ways in which services and social support are used. We are hoping to understand the concept of ‘neighborhood’ in rural areas, as the geographic spread of neighborhood may be much larger than in big cities,” she continued.

“This survey is a pilot, so we are trying to figure out the right questions to ask when we do a much larger survey of other rural parts of the state,” she said. “We want to be sure that our questions are clear and make sense within the rural context.”

Previous studies, said Maguire-Jack, have shown where people live affects a wide range of parenting behaviors.

“This study is really about understanding all of those behaviors, including positive and negative parenting practices. Our previous work has shown that neighborhoods with high levels of social cohesion (trust and support between neighbors) have more positive parenting practices,” she said.

Maguire-Jack said she needs 200 surveys to be completed for the study to be viable. So far, they have 10 percent of that goal.

“The survey includes questions about relationships between parents, mental health and parenting. We assess the risk from these items to be low, but we want to acknowledge that we are able to connect parents to resources if they do experience distress or if they want help,” she said.

The deadline to complete the survey is Jan. 31. It takes between 30-45 minutes to complete the survey. Each participant taking the survey must read a consent form outlining the survey and its research before they actually take the survey. Participation in the survey is voluntary.

“The survey is available online at,” said Maguire-Jack. “Any parent with a child age 12 or younger is eligible to take the survey and will receive a $10 Walmart gift card within two weeks of participation. The survey is also readily available at the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA. However, if anyone would like a survey personally mailed to them, I would be happy to do so. I can be reached by phone 614-688-4154 or email”

Results of the survey are expected to be released in the fall 2016.

“We really appreciate the time of anyone who is willing to take the survey. The work of myself and Dr. Freisthler focuses on strengths within neighborhoods in an effort to help support families.,” said Maguire-Jack.

This is the second time Maguire-Jack and Freisthler have team up for a project. They had published a paper titled “Understanding the Interplay Between Neighborhood Structural Factors, Social Processes and Alcohol Outlets on Child Physical Abuse.”

Freisthler had been a professor at the University of Califorinia, Los Angeles. She joined the OSU College of Social Work faculty this year.

OSU professors seek assistance from county parents

By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook,

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook,