In DepthSOCIAL SCIENCES

Measuring child abuse's legacy

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Science  27 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6229, pp. 1408
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6229.1408

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Summary

The notion that victims of physical abuse as kids are more likely to abuse their own children, often described as the "cycle of violence," is widely held but sparsely documented. Now, the first large, longitudinal study to track how victims of child abuse treat their own children has found little evidence of a cycle of violence, but suggests that sexual abuse and neglect may indeed be passed down the generations. The study, published this week in Science, also makes a controversial claim: that heightened surveillance of families with a history of abuse may have biased some studies taken as evidence for the cycle of violence.