Women and children at risk: a feminist perspective on child abuse.

Domestic Violence Training Project, New Haven, CT 06511.
International Journal of Health Services (Impact Factor: 0.99). 02/1988; 18(1):97-118. DOI: 10.2190/3K8F-KDWD-QYXK-2AX5
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Viewing child abuse through the prism of woman battering reveals that both problems originate in conflicts over gender identity and male authority. Data indicate that men, not women, typically commit serious child abuse. A study of the mothers of child abuse victims shows that battering is the most common context for child abuse, that the battering male is the typical child abuser, that the battered mothers have no distinctive pathology in their backgrounds, and that clinicians respond punitively to the battered mothers. The child abuse establishment assigns responsibility for abuse to mothers regardless of who assaults the child, and responds punitively to women, withholding vital resources and often removing the child to foster care, if women are battered or otherwise fail to meet expectations of "good mothering." The combination of male control, misleading psychological knowledge about women's propensity for "bonding," and sanctions used to enforce gender stereotypes of motherhood combine to increase the entrapment and inequality from which battering and child abuse originate, a process termed "patriarchal mothering." The best way to prevent child abuse is through "female empowerment."

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    • "While this indictment does not apply exclusively to CPS agencies, there can be no denying that their approach to co-occurring problems has been challenged, in particular, by those defending battered women (Landsman & Hartley 2007). CPS agencies are especially criticized for their tendency to hold abused mothers solely accountable for the protection and welfare of their children and to take custody away from them if they cannot manage to shield their children from exposure to domestic violence (Stark & Flitcraft 1988; Magen 1999; Strega 2005). The advocates of battered women argue that it is simply unreasonable to expect them to be able to control the abuser's violent behaviour and prevent their children from being exposed to the abuse (Magen 1999; Strega 2005). "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper looks at the response of the child protection services (CPS) system in cases where exposure to domestic violence occurs alone or together with abuse or neglect, focusing on the factors involved in decisions to maintain the case open for ongoing services or remove children from the home. The study is based on an analysis of clinical and administrative data from the files on children reported to a CPS agency in Montreal, Canada. A total of 1 071 substantiated reports were documented, including 337 cases of co-occurrence (32%). Analysis of the data shows that domestic violence does not by itself constitute a factor liable to lead to more intrusive intervention. The CPS response appears to be influenced more by the existence of other forms of maltreatment and risk factors. Additionally, while domestic violence may be associated with more severe individual and family problems, it does not influence the decision to keep the case open because the child still need services. The lack of any connection between domestic violence and this decision is a cause for concern, as results indicate that such families need help. Knowing how to respond to their needs therefore remains a major challenge. An increasing number of studies show that child pro-tection services (CPS) are frequently called in to deal with maltreated children in families where there is domestic violence. Research indicates that a quarter to a half of all families whose children are referred to CPS are beset by such violence (English et al. 2005). According to a 2005 survey of Canadian CPS agencies, the extent of the problem has increased in recent years. Between 1998 and 2003, exposure to domestic vio-lence was the child maltreatment problem that saw the sharpest increase, going from 1.72 substantiated cases per 1000 to 6.17 (Trocmé et al. 2005). This jump, say the authors, is in part because of amendments made to child protection legislation in several Canadian prov-inces and to changes in the attitudes of professionals and the general public towards the harmful effects of such exposure on children. There are therefore good reasons to examine the profiles of the children and parents who are struggling with this problem and to assess CPS responses to their needs.
    Child & Family Social Work 08/2011; 13(3):353-365. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2206.2010.00750.x · 0.93 Impact Factor
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    • "Only a handful of interventions focused on abused women's parenting have been described. Most of these are modules within a broader domestic violence intervention (e.g., Bilinkoff, 1995; Peled & Davis, 1995) and revolve around issues of custody and child protection (e.g., Hester, Pearson, & Harwin, 2000; Mills, 1998; Stark & Flitcraft, 1988). We have not found any documentation or evaluation of intervention directed at abused women's mothering experiences and perceptions. "
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    ABSTRACT: Findings of an outcome evaluation of a mothering group intervention with women abused by their partners are presented, based on measurements of intervention and control groups before, immediately after, and 3 months after the intervention. At Time 1, both groups reported moderate well-being, high parental self-efficacy, and low mothering-related stress. Comparisons within the intervention group revealed an increase in parental self-efficacy and in emotional well-being at Time 2 and a decrease in mothering-related stress between Time 1 and Time 3. Moreover, in comparison with the control group, at Time 2, the parental self-efficacy of women in the intervention group increased, their mothering-related stress decreased, and they reported a greater optimism with regard to their predicted well-being, whereas the control group showed declines in parental self-efficacy and predicted well-being and a greater mothering-related stress. Yet, the improvement on the mothering-related stress was the only one maintained at Time 3.
    Research on Social Work Practice 06/2010; 20(4):391-402. DOI:10.1177/1049731510362225 · 1.53 Impact Factor
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    • "Although exact figures are understandably hard to come by, there is long-standing evidence that when a man is violent to his female partner children are frequently present (Pizzey, 1974; Renvoize, 1978; Walby and Allen 2004). What is more, men who are violent to their partners are frequently also violent to their children (Stark and Flitcraft 1988, Bowker, Arbitell and McFerran, 1988, Edelson 1995, Hester et al 2007 "
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    ABSTRACT: This article employs a critical psycho-discursive approach to social identity processes and subjectivity in an important and under-researched area; the psychological impact of domestic violence on children. We use a case study of interview interaction with two teenage brothers talking about their father's past violent behaviour to show that a highly idealised, dominant form of hegemonic masculinity--'heroic protection discourse' (HPD)--was a major organising principle framing both brothers' understandings of events. However, significant differences occurred in how each boy identified and made sense of self and others within this discourse. We discuss our findings in terms of (1) the destructive power of HPD to position sons as responsible for a father's violent behaviour and (2) the utility of our approach for developing a better understanding of when, if or why psychological and behavioural problems associated with domestic violence are likely to develop in a particular child. In so doing, we hope to contribute to theoretical debates in social psychology on identity and subjectivity by showing how it is possible to make sense of the 'collision' between structure and agency through the study of social interaction.
    British Journal of Social Psychology 06/2009; 49(Pt 1):189-205. DOI:10.1348/014466609X438225 · 1.76 Impact Factor
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