Some factors influencing abusers' justification of their child abuse

Child Abuse Negl. 1990;14(3):337-45. doi: 10.1016/0145-2134(90)90005-e.


The interviews of abusive caretakers originally carried out by Kadushin and Martin (1981) were coded and subjected to statistical analyses to determine what aspects of the caretakers' situation and of their interaction with the abused child had contributed to their belief that their treatment of the youngster was justified or not. A multiple regression analysis employing scores on the various indices obtained from the sample of 73 interviews indicated that the abusers tended to believe their behavior was justified if they thought the child had been defiant and they themselves had been under considerable environmental stress. On the other hand, they generally regarded their action as less justified if they had lost their temper and had been experiencing emotional distress. The latter finding suggests, in accord with Berkowitz's analysis of emotional aggression, that some instances of child battering were impulsive reactions to a provocative event. Although major emphasis is given to the meaning of these findings for the theoretical analysis of aggression, implications for protective service practice are also indicated.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Personality Development
  • Rationalization*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications