Etiological factors in child maltreatment: A multivariate study of abusing, neglecting, and normal mothers

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Attempted to verify the prevailing multifactor theory of child abuse and neglect, which explains maltreatment as a function of (a) personality characteristics of parents, (b) children “at risk” due to preexisting deviancy, and (c) environmental stress. 80 low socioeconomic-status mothers from each of 3 samples–known-abuse, neglect, and normal treatment controls–were measured on 12 variables, including the Michigan Screening Profile of Parenting, the Schedule of Recent Experience, the Downstate Childrearing Questionnaire, and the Family Life Form. A multiple discriminant analysis distinguished the neglecting mothers from the other 2 groups at a significant level, primarily as a result of stress-related variables. Approximately 12% of the discriminant space was explained on the basis of stress and personality factors from the Michigan Screening Profile of Parenting; 49% of all Ss were correctly reclassified. It is concluded that the proposed model of causal antecedents to child maltreatment has limited explanatory power when applied retrospectively. Improved instruments, sampling techniques, and prospective longitudinal approaches are suggested for subsequent investigations. (30 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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