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Chilc Abuse

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Each year in the USA there are approximately one million reports of child maltreatment, about 25% relate to physical abuse and about 1000 children die of maltreatment each year (US Department of Health and Human Services 1999). During the past few decades, researchers have aimed at detecting the children, who are at high risk of becoming victims of abuse, so that appropriate interventions can be undertaken. The risk factors that have been emphasized include characteristics of the child, family, and social environment, and the relationship.
One of the risk factors that have been widely studied is the parents’ upbringing, specifically whether he or she was abused as a child. This risk factor is often referred to as intergenerational transmission of child abuse. Soon after Kempe introduced the “Battered Child Syndrome” a number of reports began to appear which suggested that abusive parents were themselves abused as children (Curtis 1963; Galdston 1965; Wasserman 1973). Since this concept was presented there has been a considerable amount of research done on the subject. Steele (1983) declared that “ with few exceptions, parents or other caretakers who maltreat babies, were themselves neglected (with or without physical abuse) in their own earliest years”(p. 235). In contrast, Cicchetti and Aber (1980) have asserted that empirical support for intergenerational transmission is lacking. Kaufman and Zigler (1987) reviewed evidence suggesting that abused children become abusive parents and concluded that the case for transmission across generations has been overstated. Looking back on past investigations gives support for intergenerational transmission, almost without exception. These investigations identify maltreating parents and then interview them about their own childhood. Investigations done with and without control groups indicate abusing parents report high rates of having been abused physically during childhood (Steele and Pollock 1974; Horowitz and Wollock 1981; Oliver 1978; Kotelchuk 1982; Friedrich and Wheeler 1982). Kaufman and Zigler have pointed out the problem with using results stemming from retrospective investigations to estimate the effect of an abused-abusing cycle. Because these investigations don’t have access to parents who were mistreated as children, they tend to overestimate the incidence of the maltreated-maltreating cycle. There are a...

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