Child Abuse and Raising the Next Generation

A study published in Psychology of Violence examines the prospective association of childhood abuse (physical and/or sexual abuse) with subsequent parenting practices in adulthood. The researchers used drawn from the Children in the Community Study, a prospective longitudinal study of children’s mental health development in a community sample of children followed for approximately 30 years. The study uses a multimethod, multiinformant design (self-report, parent report, and official records) incorporating data from 3 generations to examine the influence of childhood maltreatment on parenting practices at age 33, and the mediating effects of adolescent conduct disorder at age 15 and adult psychopathology at age 22. Results showed that sexual abuse predicted lower availability, time spent with the child, satisfaction with the child, and higher perceived ineffectiveness; physical abuse predicted higher perceived ineffectiveness; and dual abuse predicted lower availability and harsh discipline. Conduct disorder mediated the association of sexual abuse with satisfaction and dual abuse with availability, whereas generalized anxiety disorder mediated the association of sexual abuse with time spent with the child. These results suggest that some mothers and fathers with a history of child abuse may benefit from parenting interventions that address difficulties with emotional disengagement. Specific attention could be paid to assist these parents with emotional regulation strategies to maximize their emotional and physical engagement with their child, so as to increase their capacity for availability, time spent with the child, and parental self-efficacy.

For the abstract

           

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