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Child Abuse Negl. 2014 Dec;38(12):1923-33. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.10.016. Epub 2014 Nov 20.

Mothers' self-reported violence toward their children: a multifaceted risk analysis.

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University of Tampere, Finland.
Police College of Tampere, Finland.
Uppsala University Children's Hospital.


The universal aim of decreasing parental violence against children requires the detection of risk factors associated with violent behavior among parents. Although research has identified a number of such risk factors, these findings are scattered and a comprehensive picture is lacking. In the present study, 20 child-, parent- and family-related factors have been included in a combined analysis to assess which of these may pose as risk factors for mothers' severe violent behavior toward their children. The study is based on a representative sample of 2,716 Finnish mothers with 0-12-year-old children and was conducted as an anonymous survey. Analyses were carried out using logistic regression models. 6% of the mothers had committed severe violent acts, i.e. slapped, hit, punched (with a fist), kicked, bit, hit/try to hit the child with an object or shook (under 2 year old) child at least once during the 12 months preceding the survey. Corporal punishment experienced by the mother as a child (OR 2.45, CI 1.55-3.88) or used by the mother as a method of discipline (OR 11.14, CI 5.95-20.87), strongly increased the likelihood of severe violent acts. Additionally, work- or family-related stress (OR 1.83, CI 1.24-2.73) and lack of help in dealing with parenting problems (OR 2.55, CI 1.66-3.90) were detected as risk factors for severe violent acts toward one's own child. The findings suggest that prevention of corporal punishment may be an important hinder to the transmission of experiences of violence from one generation to another, and that contextual and situational factors may overlap the influence of individual-related risk factors.


Child abuse; Children; Corporal punishment; Mothers; Risks; Violence

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