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Comparison of Abusive and Nonabusive Mothers of Abused Children

NCJ Number
Child Maltreatment Volume: 7 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2002 Pages: 369-376
Barbara L. Baumann; David J. Kolko
Mark Chaffin
Date Published
November 2002
8 pages
This comparative study attempted to describe intake functioning and subsequent service experiences for offending and nonoffending mothers by using a sample in which all children were physically abused.
In 1997, there were approximately 240,000 cases of substantiated child physical abuse in the United States as reported by the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS). Women were responsible for half of all physical abuse incidences and parents committed the majority of all abuse types as reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1999. Because mothers are often the primary caretakers in families it is important to understand the psychological and behavioral characteristics of maltreating and nonmaltreating mothers of physically abused children to better identify appropriate follow-up and preventive services. It is necessary to understand the needs of perpetrating and nonperpetrating parents in abusive families. This study compared service use and functioning at intake for families of physically abused children as a function of the mother’s offender status. The areas of functioning at intake included: child abuse potential, child-related stress, psychological distress, parenting, and parent perceptions of child behavior. The primary finding was that nonabusive mothers were more likely than abusive mothers to receive individual parent services. Nonoffending mothers also received two different types of services on average and offending mothers received only one type of service. Self-reports of child, parent, and family characteristics did not differentiate abusive from nonabusive mothers of abused children on measures of functioning at intake. However, mothers did differ slightly in the number and type of services they received through child protective service referrals. References