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13 May 2019

Intergenerational continuity/discontinuity of child maltreatment among low-income mother–child dyads: The roles of childhood maltreatment characteristics, maternal psychological functioning, and family ecology

The aim of this study was to identify factors that would distinguish mother-child dyads where intergenerational continuity was present (mothers who were maltreated in childhood mistreating their children) from dyads characterised by intergenerational discontinuity. The specific factors investigated included maternal childhood maltreatment, psychological functioning, and family ecology. Compared to maltreated mothers who broke the cycle of maltreatment, those who perpetuated the cycle were more likely to have experienced childhood physical neglect and multiple types of maltreatment, and to experience sociodemographic risk, intimate partner violence, and lack family support. Compared to nonmaltreated mothers who did not mistreat their child: (a) maltreated mothers who broke the cycle were more likely to experience residential instability and lack family support, and (b) nonmaltreated mothers whose child was maltreated were more likely to experience sociodemographic risk and lack of family support. Maternal psychological functioning did not discriminate maltreatment groups.