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Childhood History of Abuse and Child Abuse Potential: The Role of Parent's Gender and Timing of Childhood Abuse

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 38 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2014 Pages: 510-516
A. Romero-Martínez; B. Figueiredo; L. Moya-Albiol
Date Published
March 2014
7 pages
This study examined the influence of a parent's gender, the timing of the parent's abuse as a child, and specific socio-demographic variables on the link between a parent's history of physical abuse as a child and current risk for abusing his/her own children.
The study found that fathers physically abused as children had lower current potential risk of becoming perpetrators of physical abuse with their children compared to mothers; and parents of both genders who had been continuously physically abused (beginning before and continuing past age 13) presented a higher potential risk of becoming perpetrators of physical abuse with their own children compared to parents without a history of physical abuse as children. The strongest predictor that a father would physically abuse his children was the father's being physically abused as a child before age 13; and for mothers, it was being physically abused after age 13. For both fathers and mothers, similar socio-demographic variables (family income, number of children at home, employment status, and marital status) predicted the potential risk of becoming perpetrators of physical abuse of their own children. Only in mothers was the educational level predictive of a potential risk for abusing her children. These findings support the hypothesis of the existence of an intergenerational cycle of abuse and highlight the need for future research to identify the mediating processes that link generations in this maladaptive way. The study sample consisted of 920 parents (414 fathers and 506 mothers) from the Portuguese National Representative Study of Psychosocial Context of Child Abuse and Neglect. Participants completed the Childhood History Questionnaire and the Child Abuse Potential Inventory. 3 tables and 57 references