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Do Abused Children Become Abusive Parents?

NCJ Number
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry Volume: 57 Issue: 2 Dated: (April 1987) Pages: 186-192
J Kaufman; E Zigler
Date Published
7 pages
The belief that abused children are likely to become abusive parents is widely accepted, but the authors contend that this belief cannot be unconditionally supported.
A review of case history, agency record, and self-report studies indicates that about one-third of all individuals who were physically abused, sexually abused, or extremely neglected will subject their children to one of these forms of maltreatment. The rate of abuse among individuals with a history of abuse is approximately six times higher than the base rate for abuse in the general population. Although this suggests that being maltreated as a child is an important risk factor in the etiology of abuse, most maltreated children do not become abusive parents. Many mediating factors affect the likelihood of intergenerational abuse. Consequently, unqualified acceptance of the intergenerational hypothesis is unwarranted. 41 references.