This chapter reviews studies which facilitated the emergence of ecological theory, and those that underlie the chief competing and antithetical theory. Initial theory concerning the etiology of child abuse and neglect emphasized almost exclusively psychological determinants. C. H. Kempe contended that the psychodynamics of child maltreatment have nothing to do with income, education, or any other variables embraced by the sociologist. Illegitimate pregnancies and unwanted births to adolescent women have been found to be associated with child mistreatment. These mothers are viewed as children who themselves have children. Changes in the structure of the American family have been suggested as an influence on the increasing tendency toward violence directed against children and spouses by other family members. Divorce and the marital discord leading to marital dissolution are important components of that scenario. Single parent families, particularly female-headed families, are overrepresented among abusive families. Single-parent females have been found to abuse their young children more often than in two-parent families.