Exposure to Childhood Physical Abuse and Later Parenting Outcomes
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Data from a prospective, longitudinal study of a birth cohort of over 1000 New Zealanders was used to examine the relationships between the level of childhood physical abuse a young person is exposed to during childhood (birth to 16 years), and a range of later parenting outcomes in young adulthood. To address this issue, three questions were considered. First, the study examined risk factors that contribute to an early transition to parenthood. Second, this study investigated the current family circumstances of contemporary young parents and their families. And finally, the association between childhood physical abuse and later parenting outcomes was examined. All members of the Christchurch Health and Development Study (CHDS) who had become parents by age 25 (112 women and 55 men) were included in the study. To be eligible for inclusion cohort members had to be either biological parents or actively involved in the parenting of non-biological children on a regular basis. Exposure to childhood physical abuse (CPA) was measured at ages 18 and 21 based on cohort member's retrospective reports. At age 25, a parenting interview was conducted which included the following measures of parenting: the Conflict-Tactics Scale (CTS-PC; Straus, Hamby, Finkelhor, Moore, & Runyan, 1998), Dunn scales of positivity and negativity (Dunn, Deater-Deckard, Pickering, & Golding, 1999), the Parenting Practices Questionnaire (PPQ; Robinson, Mandleco, Olsen, & Hart, 1995), HOME ratings of responsivity and avoidance of punishment (Caldwell & Bradley, 1979), and interviewer ratings of parental warmth, sensitivity, and child management (Quinton, Rutter, & Liddle, 1984). Findings showed that parents who experienced higher levels of punishment whilst growing up were more negative and less positive towards their own children, were more accepting of the use of physical discipline, and scored lower on warmth, sensitivity and child management compared to those with lower levels of exposure to childhood physical abuse. These findings contribute to our understanding of the effects of childhood physical abuse on later parenting outcomes.