Parent-child aggression: association with child abuse potential and parenting styles.
ABSTRACT The present investigation predicted that greater use of corporal punishment as well as physical maltreatment would be associated with child abuse potential and selected parenting styles. Three independent studies were examined, two with community samples and a third with a clinical at-risk sample of parents. Parents across all studies anonymously completed the Child Abuse Potential Inventory, the Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scale to assess physical discipline and maltreatment, as well as the Parenting Scale to measure dysfunctional parenting styles. Findings support that overall parent-child aggression, as well as physical maltreatment behaviors specifically, were associated with child abuse potential. Parent-child aggression was also related to dysfunctional parenting styles, particularly an overreactive, authoritarian parenting style. Permissive parenting was also identified as potentially associated with physical maltreatment, although the findings regarding such lax parenting styles are less clear. Intriguing findings emerged regarding the connection of psychological aggression to both child abuse potential and dysfunctional parenting style. Child abuse potential was also associated with dysfunctional parenting style, particularly harsh, overreactive approaches. Recommendations for future study with at-risk samples and additional research on permissive parenting and psychological aggression are discussed.