U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Psychosocial Characteristics of Nonoffending Mothers of Sexually Abused Girls: Findings From a Prospective, Multigenerational Study

NCJ Number
Child Maltreatment Volume: 12 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2007 Pages: 338-351
Kihyun Kim; Jennie G. Noll; Frank W. Putnam; Penelope K. Trickett
Date Published
November 2007
14 pages
This study identified the psychosocial characteristics of 72 ethnically diverse, nonoffending mothers of sexually abused girls.
The study found that compared to mothers of children who had not been sexually abused, the nonoffending mothers of sexually abused children were more likely to report having been emotionally and/or sexually abused as children. Based on previous research, the authors suggest that this finding may be explained by the impaired judgment characteristic of child abuse victims, i.e., they may misinterpret or fail to note signs of potential danger to their children. This impaired judgment/perception may contribute to the undetected development and maintenance of sexual abuse in the family. Upon disclosure of the child's sexual abuse, the nonoffending mother may re-experience her own childhood abuse experiences, which may, in turn, compromise her parenting capacity and psychological functioning. More research is needed in order to determine how various types and patterns of childhood abuse of nonoffending mothers impair their ability to protect and care for their children both before and after the child's sexual abuse is disclosed. The 72 mothers of sexually abused girls (ages 6-16) were compared with 55 mothers of girls who had not been sexually abused and were demographically similar to the abused girls in age, socioeconomic status, and family composition. The variables measured included the mothers' childhood developmental histories and current functioning (e.g., depression, parenting), as well as their current family environment. 3 tables and 80 references