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Child Abuse Negl. 2014 Mar;38(3):510-6. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.09.010. Epub 2013 Oct 23.

Childhood history of abuse and child abuse potential: the role of parent's gender and timing of childhood abuse.

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Department of Psychobiology, University of Valencia, Spain.
School of Psychology, University of Minho, Portugal.


It has been suggested that being physically abused leads to someone becoming a perpetrator of abuse which could be associated to parents' gender, timing of the physical abuse and specific socio-demographic variables. This study aims to investigate the role the parents' gender, timing of childhood abuse and socio-demographic variables on the relationship between parents' history of childhood physical abuse and current risk for children. The sample consisted of 920 parents (414 fathers, 506 mothers) from the Portuguese National Representative Study of Psychosocial Context of Child Abuse and Neglect who completed the Childhood History Questionnaire and the Child Abuse Potential Inventory. The results showed that fathers had lower current potential risk of becoming physical abuse perpetrators with their children than mothers although they did not differed in their physical victimization history. Moreover, the risk was higher in parents (both genders) with continuous history of victimization than in parents without victimization. Prediction models showed that for fathers and mothers separately similar socio-demographic variables (family income, number of children at home, employment status and marital status) predicted the potential risk of becoming physical abuses perpetrators. Nevertheless, the timing of victimization was different for fathers (before 13 years old) and mothers (after 13 years old). Then our study targets specific variables (timing of physical abuse, parents' gender and specific socio-demographic variables), which may enable professionals to select groups of parents at greater need of participating in abuse prevention programs.


Child abuse; Cycle of violence; Parenting; Potential abuse; Timing

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