Behind the cycle of violence, beyond abuse history: A brief report on the association of parental attachment to physical child abuse potential

Academic Article

Abstract

  • Although the concept of a cycle of violence presumes that the transmission of violence is expressed directly across generations, the role of the overall quality of the parent-child relationship may ultimately be more influential in later parenting behavior. This study investigated whether mothers' poorer attachment to their parents was associated with their current increased child abuse potential and dysfunctional disciplinary style independent of a personal history of child abuse. A sample of 73 at-risk mothers raising children with behavior problems reported on their parental attachment, abuse potential, dysfunctional parenting style, and personal abuse history. An at-risk sample, rather than a sample of identified abuse victims or perpetrators, was studied to better examine the potential continuity or discontinuity from history of abuse to current abuse risk, allowing consideration of those who may break the cycle versus those who potentially initiate abuse in the absence of a personal history. Findings indicate that poor attachment significantly predicted both dysfunctional parenting practices and elevated child abuse potential, controlling for personal child abuse history. Such results highlight the importance of the overall quality of the relationship between the parent and child in potentially shaping future abuse risk. Findings are discussed in terms of continuity or discontinuity in the cycle of violence and future directions for research on attachment in relation to the development of later child abuse risk. © 2011 Springer Publishing Company.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Rodriguez CM; Tucker MC
  • Start Page

  • 246
  • End Page

  • 256
  • Volume

  • 26
  • Issue

  • 2