A Research Proposal on Child Abuse and Adult Behavior

Table of Content

My experiment will consist of 347 families with a child age 3 through 17 at home. Child abuse information will be obtained from a randomly selected child in each family. Child abuse will be defined as an attack by a parent involving punching, kicking, biting, hitting with an object, beating up, or using a knife or gun. Cases will be followed up to determine the extent of adult criminal behavior, violent criminal behavior and child abuse in victims as adults (age 18 – 32 years).

Each year in the USA there are approximately one million reports of child maltreatment, about 25% relate to physical abuse and about 1000 children die of maltreatment each year (US Department of Health and Human Services 1999). During the past few decades, researchers have aimed at detecting the children, who are at high risk of becoming victims of abuse, so that appropriate interventions can be undertaken. The risk factors that have been emphasized include characteristics of the child, family, and social environment, and the relationship. One of the risk factors that have been widely studied is the parents upbringing, specifically whether he or she was abused as a child. This risk factor is often referred to as intergenerational transmission of child abuse. Soon after Kempe introduced the Battered Child Syndrome a number of reports began to appear which suggested that abusive parents were themselves abused as children (Curtis 1963; Galdston 1965; Wasserman 1973). Since this concept was presented there has been a considerable amount of research done on the subject. Steele (1983) declared that with few exceptions, parents or other caretakers who maltreat babies were themselves neglected (with or without physical abuse) in their own earliest years(p. 235). In contrast, Cicchetti and Aber (1980) have asserted that empirical support for intergenerational transmission is lacking. Kaufman and Zigler (1987) reviewed evidence suggesting that abused children become abusive parents and concluded that the case for transmission across generations has been overstated. Looking back on past investigations gives support for intergenerational transmission, almost without exception. These investigations identity maltreating parents and then interview them about their own childhood. Investigations done with and without control groups indicate abusing parents report high rates of having been abused physically during childhood (Steele and Pollock 1974; Horowitz and Wollock 1981; Oliver 1978; Kotelchuk 1982 Friedrich and Wheeler 1982). Kaufman and Zigler have pointed out the problem with using results stemming from retrospective investigations to estimate the effect of an abused-abusing cycle. Because these investigations dont have access to parents who were mistreated as children, they tend to overestimate the incidence of the maltreated-maltreating cycle. There are also reasons why retrospective reports may underestimate how many maltreating parents were themselves abused as children. One reason may be that these adults believe that frequent experience with corporal punishment in childhood, beatings, was normal. Kadushin and Martin (1981) found that nearly every report of child abuse was precipitated by a behavior in the child that the parent felt called for disciplinary action. Therefore, in part this appears to be related to cultural acceptance of violence (Hilberman 1980), but it also implies an identification with the parents views on corporal punishment. In one investigation (Kotelchuk 1982), parents were asked to describe their childhood experience. Investigators coding the descriptions were far more likely than parents to consider the experiences to have been abusive. On the other hand, parents responses to a direct question about having been abused were not related to punitive treatment of their children.

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The Department of Health and Human Services released a survey estimating that child abuse and neglect in the United States nearly doubled during the seven years between 1986 and 1993.

According to the HHS study, the number of total child maltreatment instances that were investigated by state agencies remained constant from 1986 to 1993; however, the percentage of cases investigated declined dramatically.

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A Research Proposal on Child Abuse and Adult Behavior. (2023, May 31). Retrieved from


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