CFD 3240 Lecture 4: The History of Child Maltreatment in the United States

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University of Central Missouri
Child and Family Development
CFD 3240

The History of Child Maltreatment in the United States  Child maltreatment a common occurrence for many centuries o But public objection in the U. S. relatively new  1 scientific documentation of harmful effects of child abuse occurred in 1962 o Kempe and colleagues coined the phrase, “the battered child syndrome” o Several years later, “family violence” used to refer to violent acts of family members against each other o Those publications led to laws to protect children from violence Child Maltreatment Today  Over 1 million substantiated, cases of child maltreatment in the U. S. per year since 1993  Factors linked with family violence: o The intergenerational transmission of abuse o Parental substance abuse o Certain characteristics of both parents and children Intergenerational Transmission of Parental Abuse and Neglect  Adults are predicted to replicate the aggressive behaviors of their parents  Type-specific intergenerational transmission o Parents neglected during childhood more likely to be neglectful o Parents physically abused during childhood more likely to be physically abusive Interrupting the Cycle of Abuse &/or Neglect  Most individuals abused as children do not abuse their own children  For many, their earlier experience counter-balanced by professional counseling and/or support from a partner  Mothers’ own childhood neglect or abuse contributes to higher levels of vulnerability and chronic or recurrent depression  Intervention services that decrease their vulnerability and depression levels benefit those mothers as well as their children Child Abuse/Neglect and Substance Abuse  Many children in foster care removed from substance abusing parents who abused and/or neglected them  Both mothers’ and fathers’ substance abuse related to psychological and physical abuse of their children  Example: Methamphetamine addiction contributes to parents’ rapid loss of control, which endangers children’s physical and psychological well-being Child Abuse and Parental Age  Adolescent mothers at risk for harsh parenting & more likely to abuse/and neglect their children than older mothers o Also likely to continue to abuse/neglect their children when they and their children grow older o Paternal coercion against the mother & father’s use of spanking both associated with maternal harsh parenting o Programs that focus on prevention should engage both mothers and fathers Other Parental Characteristics Related to Child Abuse and Neglect  Tendency toward role reversal o whereby the parent depends on the child to gratify parental needs  Parental impulse control problems
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