AbstractsWomens Studies

A study of the prevalence, experience and nature of child-to-mother violence in a high-risk geographical area

by Michel A. Edenborough

Institution: University of Western Sydney
Department: School of Nursing
Degree: PhD
Year: 2007
Keywords: family violence; abused women; services for; mother and child
Record ID: 1073926
Full text PDF: http://handle.uws.edu.au:8081/1959.7/19173


In this research the prevalence, experiences and nature of child-to-mother violence from a high-risk geographical area were investigated. The aims of the study were to identify these factors within contemporary communities and develop validated recommendations for interventions to support affected mothers, children and families. This form of family pathology has been positioned within juvenile justice and medical models rather than family violence literature. It appears to be poorly understood, underreported and hidden from public view. Thus, it was difficult for some affected women to recognise what they were experiencing as abuse. In the literature, mothers were reported as the primary targets of violence and sons the predominant perpetrators. Incidence rates varied widely from samples collected 30 to 40 years ago. Other anomalies in the literature revealed power in mother-child relationships to be unclear, and the gender of targets of violence and perpetrators was not made explicit in the literature. In this study a mixed method design was used over four distinct phases: (1) development and validation of an instrument; (2) conducting a pilot study; and (3) population study; and (4) workshop with service providers. Psychometric tests on the instrument indicated a 0.97 correlation coefficient on a test re-test, and Cronbach’s alpha achieved correlation coefficient of 0.91 for the 24 item scale and 0.99 correlation coefficient for the 17 item scale. Results signify prevalence of child-to-mother violence in 50.9% [n = 1024] of the households surveyed. Key findings indicate 50.3% [n=521] of women were afraid in their family of origin, and 39.2% [n=521] of children had been witness to violence in the home previously. In addition, younger mothers experienced greater child-to-mother violence; as women’s level of education increased, their experience of child-to-mother violence decreased; single mothers experienced greater child-to-mother violence; and were more likely to live in households with access to casual employment or were unemployed. Perpetrators were predominantly sons, 58.7% [n = 521]. Half of the women who experienced child-to-mother violence spoke to someone; and experiences for women with a partner present in the home were divided between supportive and unsupportive behaviour from the partner. The most popular suggestions for support were affordable long-term counselling for youth and family, parent workshops, information and education, non-judgemental advocacy for mothers and their families, support groups for mothers, families and youth and peer mentorship programs. Women made salient their experiences related to child-to-mother violence which revealed the seriousness and complexity of this issue for women. As a result five key themes were developed: (1) Living in the red zone: The experience of child-to-mother violence, this theme referred to women’s sense of danger and difficulty in rasing an abusive child; (2) The damage is done: The breakdown of relationships, which described the breakdown and discord…