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The Role of Psychopathology and Emotion Regulation in the Intergenerational Transmission of Childhood Abuse: A Family Study.

Child Maltreatment 2024 Februrary 2
Previous studies have shown that parents with a history of childhood abuse are at increased risk of perpetrating child abuse. To break the cycle of childhood abuse we need to better understand the mechanisms that play a role. In a cross-sectional extended family design including three generations ( N = 250, 59% female), we examined the possible mediating role of parental psychopathology and emotion regulation in the association between a history of childhood abuse and perpetrating child abuse. Parents' own history of childhood abuse was associated with perpetrating abuse toward their children, and externalizing (but not internalizing) problems partially mediated this association statistically. Implicit and explicit emotion regulation were not associated with experienced or perpetrated abuse. Findings did not differ across fathers and mothers. Findings underline the importance of (early) treatment of externalizing problems in parents with a history of childhood abuse, to possibly prevent the transmission of child abuse.

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