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Child Abuse Negl. 2001 Jun;25(6):839-53.

A survey on parent-child conflict resolution: intrafamily violence in Italy.

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Department of Ethology, Ecology, and Evolution, University of Pisa, Italy.



The purpose of this paper was to investigate factors associated with intrafamily violence toward children in Italy. Family structure and the characteristics of both caretakers and children were explored. Their association with the incidence of minor and severe violence was analyzed to test the hypothesis that child physical abuse is related to a combination of different factors involving the family as a whole.


This research was carried out by submitting an anonymous questionnaire to 2388 families residing in Tuscany, Italy. The form included two sections, one related to the family cultural substrate, and to potentially influential events affecting the family during the year 1998. The other one, taken from the conflict tactics (CT) scales, presented a hierarchy of possible responses to conflict.


Physical punishment appeared to be a general behavior in Italy, because the incidence of minor violence was 77%. The incidence of severe violence was about 8%. When considering family, caretaker, and child characteristics mostly associated with physical punishment in Italy, we found that families with a low income, where caretakers had health problems or were stressed, and with younger and more "problematic" children presented the highest risk of intrafamily violence during conflict resolution.


The results point to the importance of a balance between potentiating and compensatory factors in complex and dynamic relationships among family members, to avoid strategy resolution of conflict ultimately leading to violence. Moreover, minor and severe violence appeared to be two related but different phenomena.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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