Why Would Someone Abuse a Child  Annotated Bibliography

Excerpt from Annotated Bibliography :

Child Abuse Bibliography

I am researching child abuse, and more specifically asking the question of what motivates abusers. For many people child abuse seems to us quite literally unthinkable: the sexual abuse of children seems impossible to anyone who is not a paedophile, and the physical abuse of a child by an adult seems contrary to human nature. I would like to know if the medical and social sciences have done any research into the motivations of abusers, to help provide an answer to something that so many people find impossible to understand.

Barth, Richard and Blythe, Betty J. "The Contribution of Stress to Child Abuse." The Social Service Review 57.3 (1983): 477-489. Print.

The authors note that it is almost universal to agree that stress contributes in some way to child abuse, no-one has done sufficient research into the precise connection. They do basic research on issues relating to both stress and child abuse, and they reject the various models offered for the mechanism whereby stress leads to child abuse -- which they term the "phenomenological," "life change," and "social" models -- as having limited applicability. Authors note that there is a real diversity among abusers, making the ability to generalize in any broad way more difficult.

2. Baumrind, Diana. "The Social Context of Child Maltreatment." Family Relations 43.4 (1994): 360-368. Print.

Baumrind uses Bronfenbrenner's "ecological model" to examine the various economic and cultural factors which underlie child abuse. They find that maltreatment is often caused by factors such as the immaturity of young parents, fighting and marital strife between parents, issues related to adopted children, and finally aspects of child behavior which might in some way be problematic.

3. Giles-Sims, Jean and Finkelhor, David. "Child Abuse in Stepfamilies." Family Relations 33.3 (1984): 407- 413. Print.

The authors approach the widespread belief, derived from wicked stepmothers in fairy tales, that somehow children in stepfamilies are at a greater risk for abuse at the hands of a stepparent. They find that stepparents are overrepresented statistically among reported abusers, but concede that the data are unable to tell us very…

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Surveying parents at risk of child abuse, the authors discover that factors which increase the propensity to abuse (which they describe in terms of loss of control over their ability not to do so) are isolation and also lack of feedback about the quality of their parenting. However, the authors find that personality traits of at-risk parents are more useful in predicting abuse than situational factors. Authors warn that potential child abusers are "an immensely heterogeneous population" and "as a group they cannot all be characterized in terms of psychiatric disorder or personality type."

6. Milner, Joel S. And Murphy, William D. "Assessment of Child Physical and Sexual Abuse Offenders." Family Relations 44.4 (1995): 478- 488. Print.

Authors look at different methods currently in place for evaluation of child physical and sexual abuse offenders within the justice system. They offer a critique of current methods, and otherwise assess the use of "interviews, observations, general personality measure, and offender-specific measures" which are required for various purposes including "screening, report confirmation, treatment planning, treatment evaluation, and recidivism prediction." They note that there is a scarcity of data, though, on the effectiveness of these various methods, or the appropriateness of specific methods for specific circumstances.

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