• April 2004
  • Vol. 5, No. 3

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Risk Factors for Chronic Child Maltreatment

Results from a recent study published in the Journal of Family Violence (Vol. 19, No. 1) indicate that certain psychosocial risk factors are associated with a mother's high potential for child abuse and neglect over time. These results may help practitioners identify families who are at greatest risk of chronic maltreatment and implement long-term interventions that take these risk factors into account.

The study involved 56 mothers who either maltreated their children or were at high risk for maltreatment. After 4 years, the women who still had an open case with a child protection agency or displayed strong tendencies for abuse (chronic abuse problems) were compared with those women with inactive child protection cases and those who displayed weak tendencies for abuse (transitory abuse problems). Results show that 6 of the 14 risk factors studied were associated with chronic abuse problems after 4 years:

  • High potential for abuse and neglect at intake
  • Presence of both a mother and father in the home*
  • Large number of children
  • Mother had been in foster care as a child
  • Mother had been sexually abused
  • Mother had run away as an adolescent

Additionally, mothers with more than eight risk factors were found to be much more likely to have chronic abuse problems than mothers with fewer than eight risk factors.

An abstract and ordering information are available on the Journal of Family Violence website at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/B%3AJOFV.0000011579.18333.c9.

*This finding is not consistent with other research.

Related Items

Read more about risk factors for child maltreatment in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

  • "Predictors of Recurrence in Child Protective Cases Involving Substance Abuse" (October 2003)
  • "LONGSCAN Examines Fatherhood" (April 2002)

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