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Health Visit. 1989 Sep;62(9):268-70.

In what ways, if any, are child abusers different from other parents?


In recent years a variety of alternative theoretical models have been developed to aid our understanding and to guide research in this area. This essay considers in particular the psychiatric model and the social interactional model of child abuse, together with research studies comparing physically abusive and non-abusive families. It will be concluded that research has pinpointed several important distinguishing features in the behaviour of abusive versus non-abusive families. A pattern of behaviour with their child is displayed by abusers that is proportionately more aversive than for non-abusers, and observations of parent-child interactions have revealed qualitative differences in patterns of interaction which seem to be a significant factor in the differentiation of abusive from non-abusive families.

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