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PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN QUESTIONS TO BE ADDRESSED What is psychological abuse? Problems in defining psychological abuse PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Soc 695 Family Violence Research In World Perspective Murray A. Straus. PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN QUESTIONS TO BE ADDRESSED What is psychological abuse? Problems in defining psychological abuse

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PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN QUESTIONS TO BE ADDRESSED What is psychological abuse? Problems in defining psychological abuse

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Soc 695 Family Violence Research In World Perspective Murray A. Straus

  • PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN

  • QUESTIONS TO BE ADDRESSED

  • What is psychological abuse?

  • Problems in defining psychological abuse

  • How much psychological aggression occurs in the US?

  • Cases known to child protective services

  • Cases found by community surveys

  • What age children are most often victims?

  • What are the effects of psychological aggression?

  • If parents are also loving and supportive, does that stop harmful effects?

  • What are the trends in psychological abuse of children?

  • Trends in cases known to child protective services

  • Cases found by community surveys


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  • DEFINITIONS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE

  • (Synonyms: psychological aggression, emotional maltreatment, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, etc.)

  • A. DEFINITIONS BASED ON INJURY

  • Legal definition and also many scholars

  • Behavior by parents such as rejection and depreciation that results in injury to a child.

  • Example, “Psychological abuse is ‘inappropriate behavior,’ which damages, or substantially reduces the mental facilities and mental process of a child” (O'Hagan, 1993).

  • Defining psychological aggression on the basis of injury to a child may be necessary for the legal purpose of deciding when to intervene.

  • Poses a serious problem for many research issues


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  • PROBLEMS WITH A DEFINITION BASED ON INJURY

  • Children may not display lasting social or psychological problems. So most cases will be missed = FALSE NEGATIVES

  • Presence of psychological problems does not necessarily indicate that the parents were psychologically aggressive to the child = FALSE POSITIVES

  • The extent to which psychological aggression results in lasting psychological injury to the child is an issue to be investigated

  • If injury is a criterion of psychological aggression, an empirical test of whether psychological aggression results in injury is not possible because, by definition, there are no cases without injury

  • For many research purposes it is important to base the definition and measurement of psychological aggression on acts of psychological aggression by parents, not on the outcome behavior


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B. DEFINITION BASED ON PARENT BEHAVIOR

(THE DEFINITION OF PSYCHOLOGICAL AGGRESSION

USED FOR THE THREE NATIONAL SURVEYS

AND FOR THIS COURSE)

Psychological aggression is a communication intended to cause the child to experience psychological pain. The communicative act may be active or passive, or verbal or nonverbal (Solomon & Serres, 1999; Vissing et al., 1991)


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  • THE THREE NATIONAL FAMILY VIOLENCE SURVEYS

    • 19752,146 married & cohabiting couples

    • 19856,002 married & cohabiting couples, and recently separated couples

    • 19951,000 parents with a child under 18 at home. Includes single parents

  • HOW WERE THE SAMPLES SELECTED?

    • 1975Area probability. Face-to-face interviews

    • 1985Random digit dial phone selection and interview

    • 1995Random digit dial phone selection and interview

  • HOW REPRESENTATIVE ARE THESE SAMPLES OF THE INTENDED SEGMENTS OF THE POPULATION?


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  • MEASURE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL AGGRESSION (EMOTIONAL ABUSE)

  • PSYCHOLOGICAL AGGRESSION SCALE OF THE

  • PARENT-CHILD CONFLICT TACTICS SCALES

  • “ORDINARY”

  • Shouted, yelled, or screamed at child

  • Threatened to spank or hit but did not actually do it

  • “SEVERE”

  • Swore or cursed at child

  • Called him/her dumb or lazy or some other name like that

  • Told child you would send him/her away or

  • Kicked him/her out of the house

  • PERCENT IN PAST YEAR

  • None of the above 10% = 90% did one or more

  • One of them23%

  • Two 37%

  • Three or more30%


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10 or more – 100 times more cases than known to child protective services

25 or more = 50 times more cases


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Nationally Representative Sample of 1,000 children 0-17

The top 25%

times in past yr


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100%

90%

80%

70%

60%

50%

40%

30%

Any Psych. Aggression:

90% by age 2 and stays that high


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60%

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%

Severe Psy. Aggression goes up as children get older


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STUDY OF PARENTS IN AUSTIN TEXAS

(Holden, 2004)

  • Followed 132 parents and their newborn infants over four years

  • Thirty-five percent yelled and screamed at their children before they were a year old

  • By the time the children were four years old, 93 percent had

  • IS THAT HARMFUL TO CHILDREN?


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The opposite of “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”

Not a denial of the hurt. Words to help children survive psych aggression by peers & parents


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NATIONAL FAMILY VIOLENCE SURVEY


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THE MORE VERBAL AGGRESSION BY PARENTS, THE MORE PHYSICALLY AGGRESSIVE THE CHILD, EVEN WHEN PHYSICAL VIOLENCE TO CHILD BY PARENTS IS CONTROLLED (ALSO CONTROLLED ON AGE & SEX OF CHILD AND FAMILY SES)


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THE DOUBLE WHAMMY – SHOWS THE SEPARATE AND COMBINED EFFECTS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL ABUSE


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AS A CHILD


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Bagley, 1996


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SOME OTHER HARMFUL EFFECTS

  • Sets an example of what is permissible in family relations that carries over to dating and marriage

  • Makes parents feel bad about doing it

  • Lowers the bond between child and parent

  • Lowers the effectiveness of parents because:

    • Lowered bond

    • Kids become immune to being yelled at and tune out


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  • NOT ALL CHILDREN ARE INJURED

  • AS A RESULT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL AGGRESSION

    • Does that mean that yelling and screaming is ok?

    • Why not - What might make a difference?


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WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES A SUPPORTIVE FAMILY ENVIRONMENT MAKE?

  • Reduces but does not eliminate the harmful effects (Sharma, Journal of Emotional Abuse, 2004)

  • What if it completely eliminated the harmful side effects: Does that mean it is ok if parents are supportive?

    • No more than eating bad food is okif you take Mylanta


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  • KEY POINTS ON

  • PSYCHOLOGICAL/VERBAL/EMOTIONAL ABUSE

  • PREVALENCE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN

  • At least a quarter of American children are victims of severe psychological aggression by parents

  • Parents who used verbal aggression did so frequently

  • 3. Boys subjected to somewhat more verbal aggression than girls.

  • 4. Psychological aggression starts with toddlers and goes up from there to school age, and stays high until children leave home


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RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN VERBAL AGGRESSION

AND CHILD BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS

1. The more verbal aggression by parents, the greater the probability of the child being physically aggressive, delinquent, or having interpersonal problems.

2. Even children who are raised in homes where they are never hit experience behavior problems associated with verbal aggression.

3. The strong relationship between verbal aggression and psychosocial problems applies for all age groups, and for both boys and girls, in both low and high SES families

4.Verbal aggression is more closely related to psychosocial problems of the child than is physical aggression by parents.

5. The combination of verbal aggression and abusive violence was found to be more strongly related to psychosocial behavior problems of the child than experiencing either by themselves.


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  • IRONIC AND SAD RESULTS

  • Survey of American adults: 70% believed psychological problems can result from repeated yelling and swearing at children (Daro, Abrahams, & Robson, 1988).

  • That survey, like ours, also found that most American parents insulted or swore at their children in the previous year

  • Reveals an important inconsistency between beliefs and behavior of American parents:

  • Large numbers engage in the very behavior that most believe will harm children.


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END FOR SOC 695


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