Predicting Child Physical Abuse Potential in Physically Abused Adolescents
Wapner, David Benjamin
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There is a body of evidence which supports the idea that the experience of physical abuse during childhood increases the likelihood that one will become a child physical abuse perpetrator in adulthood. There has not been much attention given to adolescent victims of physical abuse. This study's purpose is to examine whether or not victims of physical abuse during adolescence will be at a clinically elevated risk to continue the intergenerational transmission of physical abuse compared to a sample which has not been abused, with the use of the Child Abuse Potential Inventory (CAPI). Further, the factors which predict elevated child physical abuse risk will be explored. The current study was made up of 99 Caucasian participants from middle to upper-middle class neighborhoods. Forty-five participants were documented to be physically abused as adolescents by Child Protective Services (CPS). Fifty-four comparisons were matched by age, gender and community residence as a proxy for socioeconomic status. The abused participants had significantly higher scores on the CAPI and were also significantly more likely to have clinically elevated scores. Within this sample, the abused participants had significantly lower IQs than comparisons, which confounded the results. However, within a logistic regression only employing the abused group, IQ was not individually predictive of clinically elevated CAPI scores. While abused participants rated their parents to be significantly less caring than comparisons did, these perceptions did not contribute to increased abuse potential risk or differences in social adjustment. These results suggest that the experience of physical abuse in adolescent, even when only relatively mild in severity, increases the likelihood of continuity of the intergenerational transmission of physical abuse. This study provides support that social adjustment is a key factor in the prediction of child abuse potential even beyond the effect of the experience of physical abuse in adolescence.