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Parental Risk Factors Of Child Abuse: Annotated Bibliography

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Annotated Bibliography

Cadzow, S. P., Armstrong, K. L., & Fraser, J. A. (1999). Stressed parents with infants: Reassessing physical abuse risk factors. ScienceDirect. Retrieved from

Cadzow, Armstrong and Fraser (1999) suggest that elevated Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale scores, financial stress, and stress within the family environment are all indicators that increase the risk for child abuse. Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is a self report that takes about five minutes to complete that women can take on their own to screen for postnatal depression. Young mothers have an increased risk for abusing children, but not because of the age. The abuse is more likely to occur due to other pressures the mother is under such as financial stress or isolation. The actual amount of income is not as stressful as compared to how to provide housing and food for children. Parents stressed more about how to provide “food for family” or worried about how to “make ends meet”. In this article most of the young women were well supported either by parents or by a program. Stress within the family can include situations such as lack of social support was not an indicator in this article, but stress within the family can increase the risk of child abuse. Verbal abuse and social abuse had a higher affect on the risk of child abuse than physical abuse did. Ultimately, there was no association between child abuse and single parenthood, poverty, young materal age, parental history of child abuse or parental history of mental illness. Psychiatric disorders or substance abuse are more likely to lead to child neglect rather than child abuse. Limitations to this study include drug and alcohol use, history of child abuse or psychiatric illness, domestic violence and lack of information from other caregivers.

Chaffin, M., Kelleher, K., & Hollenberg, J. (1996). Onset of physical abuse and neglect: Psychiatric, substance abuse, and social risk factors from prospective community data. ScienceDirect. Retrieved from

Chaffin, Kelleher, and Hollenberg’s (2001) research shows that parents who suffered from substance abuse disorder, depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia could later develop patterns of physical abuse and neglect towards their children. Of the disorders discussed, substance abuse is the most common and highly associated with the maltreatment of children. Substance abuse and depressive disorders have the highest rates of child maltreatment and are common around the same age people become parents. Depression was associated more with physical abuse rather than neglect. This could be caused by irritability or because stress builds and parents explode on children. In addition, parents with obsessive compulsive disorder are more likely to neglect children, possibly because a majority of the parent’s attention is spent on obsessional rituals and could interfere with child rearing. On the other hand, parents with schizophrenia are less likely to abuse or neglect children because of lower levels of interpersonal violence and are more likely to inflict self harm. Child abuse is hard to determine based on social factors alone. In the community sample risk model, socioeconomics plays a limited role, but poverty is known to be a key factor in the cases reported to child protection agencies. This suggests that abuse and neglect happens across classes, but poor or minorities are reported at disproportionate rates compared to higher socioeconomic classes.

Widom, C. S., & Hiller-Sturmhöfel, S. (2001). Alcohol abuse as a risk factor for and consequence of child abuse. Alcohol research & health: the journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved from

Widom and Hiller-Sturmhöfel (2001) looked at the use of alcohol leading to abuse. The study compared parents who had a history of substance abuse to parents who have no history of substance abuse. Results found children of parents with a history of alcohol or drug abuse had higher chances of experiencing physical or sexual abuse by a family member or other person. Three options were suggested for linking alcohol and child abuse. Violence increases because it misinterprets communication between people and blame is put on alcohol for the violence. This leads to people not taking responsibility for actions. Lastly, alcohol inhibits people from conducting in socially acceptable behaviors.

Additionally, these researchers focused on abuse as a child leading to the misuse of substances as an adult. Majority of studies were done retrospectively by asking adults about their childhood experiences of abuse. These studies found the rate of childhood sexual or physical abuse among male alcoholics are similar or somewhat higher than those of the general population. One prospective study found that adult women had a higher risk of substance abuse arrest as compared to males. Follow up concluded there was no relationship between childhood victimization and alcohol abuse in men. Most studies have been done with relation to child sexual abuse and have used women. One study found that child sexual abuse by itself did not significantly predict alcohol abuse, but when considered with other factors it became a significant predictor.

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Fuller-Thomson, E., Sawyer, J.-L., & Agbeyaka, S. (2019). The toxic triad: Childhood exposure to parental domestic violence, parental addictions, and parental mental illness as factors associated with childhood physical abuse. Journal Of Interpersonal Violence. Retrieved from

Fuller-Thomson, Sawyer, and Agbeyaka (2019) looked at three different risk factors of child abuse, such as childhood exposure to domestic violence, parental addictions, and parental mental illness. It was recorded that domestic violence increased the risk the most compared to parental addictions and parental mental illnesses. One study was done in 2010 and was replicated in 2012, both surveys questioned males and females. Over one-third of males and females who reported exposure to domestic violence, but not parental mental illness or parental addictions, reported being abused. Parental addictions and parental mental illness combined did not increase the chances of child abuse as much as domestic violence. Studies have led to the creation of policies in Canada and California, where reports of domestic violence led to protective agencies investigating the welfare of the children present. Domestic violence and physical abuse have a strong relationship that could be caused by additional stressors including unemployment, criminal offenses, poverty, marital problems, and physical or mental illnesses in the family. The results of the two studies show that over one-third of individuals who experienced two of the risk factors and over two-thirds who experienced all three risk factors reported childhood physical abuse. The more risk factors the child is exposed to the higher the chances are that child abuse is occurring. Of the risk factors studied in this research domestic violence had the strongest correlation with child abuse.

McDonnell, C. G., Boan, A. D., Bradley, C. C., Seay, K. D., Charles, J. M., & Carpenter, L. A. (2018). Child maltreatment in autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability: Results from a population‐based sample. J Child Psychol Psychiatr, 60: 576-584. doi:10.1111/jcpp.12993

McDonnell and colleagues (2018) did research on autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability and looked at children from four different groups. The experimental groups include children with autism spectrum disorder only, intellectual disability only, and both autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability. The control group had similarities to the experimental groups’ gender, birth year, ethnicity, and maternal education. The results showed that all the experimental groups, as compared to the control group, were more likely to report physical child abuse and physical neglect. Children with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability, and children with intellectual disability only were more likely to have reports of sexual abuse. The autism spectrum disorder only and intellectual disability only groups reported more emotional abuse. One in three children with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability are reported to CPS for maltreatment, while one in five with autism spectrum disorder only reported to CPS. Children with these disabilities are often maltreatment by the people that are closest to them. The intellectual disability only group had more cases where immediate family members were perpetrators. Groups of autism spectrum disorder only and intellectual disability only had more cases where immediate family caregivers were perpetrators. Results showed there to be a correlation between children who have experienced maltreatment also had a higher likelihood of aggression, hyperactivity, and tantrums.

Wong, R. S., Tung, K. T. S., Cheng, A. W. F., Shiu, Y. K., Wong, W. H. S., Tso, W. W. Y., … Ip, P. (2019). Disentangling the effects of exposure to maternal substance misuse and physical abuse and neglect on child behavioral problems. Journal Of Interpersonal Violence.

In contrast to all the previous articles that were completed in the United States, Wong and colleagues (2019) used mothers with substance misuse records during pregnancy in Hong Kong, China. The mothers were surveyed on drug usage, abusive and neglectful parenting, and any behavioral issues of their children. Thirty-five of the fifty-four mothers reported the misuse of substances before the child was an infant, while nineteen of the fifty-four reported misuse of substances after the child’s infant period. Almost forty-one percent had parent reported physical abuse, while fifty percent had parent reports of neglect, in addition, fifty-four percent of the children had one or more siblings.

When confounding variables were controlled, the association between physical abuse and externalizing problems became weaker and the association between neglect and internalizing problems became stronger. The effects of physical abuse or neglect on behavioral problems differed with certain circumstances. If the child had a positive relationship with the sibling it increased the chances of healthy behavioral development in children exposed to prenatal substance misuse. It was also shown that if the mother stopped misusing substances early in the child’s life, the child had better chances of healthy development. When the child had a sibling it moderated the impact on maternal neglect and child internalizing problems. Siblings offer protection, comfort, and companionship, which could lead to healthy social and emotional development.

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