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Intergenerational transmission of child abuse and neglect: Real or detection bias?

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Science  27 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6229, pp. 1480-1485
DOI: 10.1126/science.1259917
  • Fig. 1 Rates of child protective system detection among G2 parents who report engaging in, and G3 offspring who report being the victim of, child abuse and/or neglect.

  • Table 1 Child protective service agency records by childhood history of abuse or neglect.

    The percentages reported here are based on individuals known to have lived within the original state at some point in their lives (N = 1147; see the supplementary materials for more details). Numbers for the specific types of abuse and neglect add up to more than the total for the abuse/neglect group overall because there is a small percentage of the subjects (10%) who have more than one type of abuse or neglect.

    Type of abuse and/or neglect experienced in childhood by G2 participants
    Comparison
    group
    (N = 497)
    Abuse/Neglect
    (N = 650)
    Physical abuse
    (N = 108)
    Sexual abuse
    (N = 104)
    Neglect
    (N = 511)
    Child protective
    service report
    %%AOR
    (95% CI)
    %AOR
    (95% CI)
    %AOR
    (95% CI)
    %AOR
    (95% CI)
    Any maltreatment11.721.42.01 (1.42–2.85)***18.52.03 (1.10–3.73)*26.03.43 (1.86–6.34)***21.11.88 (1.30–2.70)***
    Physical abuse5.46.91.26 (0.75–2.12)5.61.11 (0.40–3.04)4.81.13 (0.39–3.23)7.41.30 (0.76–2.23)
    Sexual abuse3.47.72.31 (1.24–4.30)**7.43.90 (1.39–10.92)**10.64.49 (1.64–12.26)***7.82.20 (1.15–4.19)*
    Neglect9.518.02.06 (1.42–3.01)***13.91.89 (0.96–3.69)22.13.40 (1.75–6.58)***17.81.96 (1.32–2.91)***
    Failure to provide3.69.42.53 (1.45–4.39)***7.42.56 (0.99–6.59)*12.54.07 (1.63–10.16)***8.82.25 (1.26–4.02)**
    Lack of supervision8.214.21.76 (1.18–2.65)**9.31.37 (0.62–3.00)15.42.55 (1.20–5.44)*14.71.79 (1.17–2.73)**

    *P < 0.05; **P < 0.01; ***P < 0.001

    • Table 2 G2 parent and nonparent self-reports of perpetration of child abuse and neglect.

      The reference group is the Comparison group. CTS, Conflict Tactics Scale, severe/very severe violence; CEQ, Childhood Experiences Questionnaire; NA, not applicable. For reports of physical abuse, the unadjusted ORs are 1.14, 1.00, 1.33, and 1.14 for nonparent G2s with histories of abuse/neglect overall, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and respectively. Due to the effects of control variables and small sample sizes here, the AORs appear inconsistent with raw percentages for G2 nonparents’ reports of physical abuse.

      Comparison
      group
      Abuse/NeglectPhysical
      abuse
      Sexual
      abuse
      Neglect
      G2 parent self-reports
      N2573044249244
      Type of abuse or
      neglect reported
      %%AOR (95% CI)%AOR (95% CI)%AOR (95% CI)%AOR (95% CI)
      Physical abuse (CTS)23.926.41.01 (0.67–1.54)31.71.49 (0.67–3.29)31.31.14 (0.55–2.37)24.90.95 (0.61–1.48)
      Sexual abuse1.93.31.69 (0.56–5.08)2.41.48 (0.15–14.63)0.0NA3.71.75 (0.57–58.40)
      Neglect (CTS)51.453.21.02 (0.72–1.45)53.71.08 (0.53–2.17)47.90.83 (0.42–1.64)54.31.05 (0.72–1.52)
      Neglect (CEQ)29.041.71.83 (1.25–2.67)***39.01.52 (0.73–3.2034.01.65 (0.79–3.42)42.71.92 (1.29–2.86)***
      G2 nonparent self-reports
      N345412542
      Type of abuse or
      neglect reported
      %%AOR (95% CI)%AOR (95% CI)%AOR (95% CI)%AOR (95% CI)
      Physical abuse26.531.51.03 (0.37–2.87)25.01.68 (0.29–9.69)40.00.85 (0.04–18.68)31.00.86 (0.28–2.63)
      Sexual abuse2.91.90.42 (0.01–21.27)0.0NA0.0NA2.4NA

      *P < 0.05; **P < 0.01; ***P < 0.001

      • Table 3 G2 previous self-reports of trouble in relation to parenting.

        Excludes parents who did not report having children.

        Comparison
        group
        Abuse/NeglectPhysical abuseSexual abuseNeglect
        %%AOR
        (95% CI)
        %AOR
        (95% CI)
        %AOR
        (95% CI)
        %AOR
        (95% CI)
        Mean age 29.2
        During past year, child was placed in custody of courts1.64.73.85 (1.44–10.29)**2.62.76 (0.48–15.83)2.63.03 (0.48–19.13)5.74.53 (1.68–12.21)***
        N3734877877384
        Mean age 40.5
        During past year, child was placed in custody of courts1.34.83.77 (1.25–1.35)*1.61.19 (0.12–11.80)3.83.02 (0.46–19.64)5.64.29 (1.46–13.46)**
        N2983776152304
        Mean age 47.1
        During past year, child was placed in custody of courts1.22.53.73 (0.76–18.33)2.6NA0NA2.63.62 (0.73–18.02)
        N2432823845228

        *P < 0.05; **P < 0.01; ***P < 0.001

        • Table 4 G3 offspring reports of experiencing child abuse and neglect.

          Comparisons are to the controls. LONGSCAN, LS; LS 0–11 refers to the time period from ages 0 to 11; LS 12–17 refers to ages 12 to 17; AH, Adolescent Health; LTVH, Lifetime Trauma and Victimization History; CTS, Conflict Tactics Scale; CEQ, Childhood Experiences Questionnaire.

          G2 parent histories
          Comparison
          group
          (N = 209)
          Abuse/Neglect
          (N = 245)
          Physical abuse
          (N = 35)
          Sexual abuse
          (N = 37)
          Neglect
          (N = 197)
          G3 offspring report of
          abuse or neglect
          %%AOR
          (95% CI)
          %AOR
          (95% CI)
          %AOR
          (95% CI)
          %AOR
          (95% CI)
          Physical abuse
          (LS 0–11)
          74.667.40.75
          (0.49–1.16)
          62.90.88
          (0.38–2.01)
          64.90.73
          (0.31–1.71)
          68.00.75
          (0.47–1.18)
          Physical abuse
          (LS 12–17)
          49.854.51.29
          (0.87–1.92)
          51.41.37
          (0.62–3.02)
          45.91.13
          (0.51–2.53)
          55.21.34
          (0.88–2.04)
          Physical
          abuse (AH)
          20.726.91.48
          (0.93–2.36)
          25.71.64
          (0.68–3.95)
          18.91.01
          (0.39–2.63)
          27.81.55
          (0.95–2.52)
          Physical
          abuse (LTVH)
          22.927.11.25
          (0.80–1.97)
          32.41.65
          (0.72–3.76)
          27.01.16
          (0.50–2.72)
          26.01.23
          (0.76–1.98)
          Sexual abuse
          (LS 0–11)
          15.824.11.46
          (0.89–2.38)
          25.72.03
          (0.83–4.95)
          24.31.54
          (0.60–3.91)
          24.41.40
          (0.83–2.36)
          Sexual abuse
          (LS 12–17)
          12.916.31.06
          (0.61–1.84)
          17.11.76
          (0.63–4.90)
          10.80.50
          (0.14–1.82)
          17.31.09
          (0.61–1.94)
          Sexual
          abuse (AH)
          4.013.03.03
          (1.34–6.87)**
          11.43.75
          (0.92–15.34)
          5.71.70
          (0.29–9.92)
          13.63.11
          (1.34–7.21)**
          Sexual
          abuse (LTVH)
          14.722.91.55
          (0.92–2.60)
          23.31.82
          (0.69–4.83)
          22.21.45
          (0.54–3.87)
          23.11.51
          (0.88–2.60)
          Neglect (CTS)59.069.01.58
          (1.03–2.40)*
          76.52.65
          (1.10–6.39)*
          75.73.07
          (1.15–8.17)*
          67.41.44
          (0.92–2.26)
          Neglect (AH)59.865.01.42
          (0.95–2.13)
          62.91.55
          (0.69–3.47)
          70.31.81
          (0.77–4.25)
          64.61.38
          (0.90–2.11)
          Neglect (CEQ)40.148.11.51
          (1.0–2.30)*
          34.40.77
          (0.33–1.80)
          47.21.51
          (0.69–3.31)
          47.61.49
          (0.96–2.33)
          Was CPS ever
          concerned?
          7.416.72.51
          (1.31–4.83)**
          20.63.83
          (1.32–11.16)**
          18.94.76
          (1.48–15.34)**
          15.72.27
          (1.14–4.52)*
          Any of the above90.090.21.13
          (0.59–2.15)
          91.41.54
          (0.42–5.75)
          89.21.12
          (0.29–4.34)
          90.91.23
          (0.61–2.45)

          *P < 0.05; **P < 0.01 ***P < 0.001

          Supplementary Materials

          • Intergenerational transmission of child abuse and neglect: Real or detection bias?

            Cathy Spatz Widom, Sally J. Czaja, Kimberly A. DuMont

            Materials/Methods, Supplementary Text, Tables, Figures, and/or References

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            • Materials and Methods
            • Tables S1 to S4
            • References

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