Predictors of Child Abuse Potential in At-Risk Adolescents

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child abuse, adolescents, conduct disorder, antisocial

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Characteristics prevalent in known child abusers and in child victims of abuse (i.e., internalizing, externalizing, sociopathy, delinquency, and nonrational conflict-solving tactics) were examined as predictors of abuse potential in adolescents. The Child Abuse Potential (CAP) Inventory (Milner, 1986) was administered to male (n = 71) and female (n = 63) teenagers attending alternative educational sites due to behavioral problems or pregnancy. Regression analyses found unique variance in abuse potential contributed by youth (16%) and teacher (6%) reports of internalizing behavior, and youth reports of sociopathy (4%) and delinquency (4%) for a total of 33% of the variance (p < .0001, n = 91) after controlling for age, sex, and pregnancy status. Number of elevated predictors in each student was also related to increased abuse potential (r = .39, p < .001). Pregnancy status and SES were not independently associated with abuse potential. Conduct disorder as a probable precursor to future abusive behavior is suggested, and the use of the CAP with adolescents is discussed.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Family Violence, v.14, issue 4, p. 417-436