PREDICTORS OF POTENTIAL FOR CHILD ABUSE AMONG ADOLESCENT MOTHERS (MALTREATMENT, TEENAGE, BATTERED CHILDREN)
DYE-HOLMES, THELMA DELORES
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In an effort to target potentially abusing adolescent mothers prior to the abuse, this study attempted to determine which variables, exhibited by adolescent mothers and known to characterize maltreating parents, would predict potential for child abuse among adolescent mothers.;The subjects for this study were fifty Black and Hispanic lower to lower middle socioeconomic status adolescent mothers between the ages of 12 to 21. Risk for child abuse was assessed by (1) ratings by social workers of abuse potential and known history of abuse, (2) a parenting inventory (Bavolek, 1978) designed to determine risk for child abuse, and (3) a standardized measure that combined both the social worker ratings and the parenting inventory.;The results of this study indicated that level of cognitive functioning and ego development were overall important predictors of abuse and potential for abuse among adolescent mothers. Other variables found to be predictors of abuse and potential abuse based on the ratings by social workers were spouse and/or boyfriend abuse, negative childrearing attitudes and level of perceived happiness. Based on the parenting inventory, variables also found to predict child abuse and potential for child abuse were cognitive functioning, self-esteem, life stress, pathogenicity, and negative childrearing attitudes. Notably it was also found that ego development, an important predictor of abuse/abuse potential in this study, was significantly intercorrelated with a number of predictor variables. In general it was concluded that many of the variables known to characterize older maltreating parents also characterize adolescent mothers at risk for child abuse. Ego development however, may play a more important role in determining risk for abuse among adolescent mothers than among adult mothers.;It was suggested that prevention and intervention programs for adolescent mothers be directed not only toward providing adolescent mothers with concrete knowledge about childrearing, but also promoting their psychological and developmental growth by helping them to understand the reasons for and the consequences of their punitive childrearing behaviors. Finally, the importance of predictor variables and significant intercorrelations among the predictor variables was discussed relative to ways of intervening with and preventing child abuse among adolescent mothers.