Causal Analysis Essay Child Abuse - pleasures of …

The link between unemployment and maltreatment is significant in understanding the relationship between poverty and maltreatment. While Gil (1970) found child maltreatment to be highly linked with poverty, Light's (1973) reanalysis of Gil's data found unemployment to be the most powerful predictor of child abuse and neglect. The relationship between unemployment and maltreatment has been documented in several research studies (e.g., Gabinet, 1983; Gelles and Hargreaves, 1981; Krugman et al., 1986; Whipple and Webster-Stratton, 1991). Steinberg et al. (1981) used an aggregate longitudinal approach, replicated in two distinct metropolitan communities, to demonstrate that increases of child abuse are preceded by periods of high job loss, consistent with the hypothesis that unemployment can cause family stress, subsequently resulting in child abuse.

Child abuse is when violence and cruelty occur against children

The intergenerational hypothesis is controversial because it is supported largely by retrospective analyses. Retrospective studies suggest that the rate of intergenerational transmission is high and that the vast majority of abusing parents were abused as children. For example, Steele and Pollack (1968), in a study evaluating clinical data, found that 60 abusing parents had been abused during childhood. Retrospective studies indicate a range between 7 percent (Gil, 1970) and 70 percent (Egeland and Jacobvitz, 1984) in the intergenerational transmission of child maltreatment. Kaufman and Zigler's (1987) partial review of the literature estimated a 30 percent rate (plus or minus 5 percent) of intergenerational transmission.


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The psychoanalytic approach posits that unconscious parental drives and conflicts determine abusive behavior (Galdston, 1973; Steele and Pollock, 1974). In a review of the abundant literature which views child abuse from a psychoanalytic perspective, the primary causes were seen to be in the parents’ psychological troubles. Kempe et al. (1962), for example, described the abuser as the “psychopathological member of the family.”