The co-occurrence of spouse and physical child abuse: A review and appraisal

Anne E. Appel, George W. Holden
1998 Journal of family psychology  
For more than 20 years, there have been periodic reports in the research literature about the co-occurrence of spouse abuse and physical child abuse. This review compiles and evaluates those reports. Forty-two studies were found that provided some data concerning co-occurrence; 31 of the studies included sufficient detail to be used in this review. The different types of studies are classified and methodological issues are discussed. The base rate of co-occurrence found in representative
more » ... presentative community samples was about 6%. In clinical samples of either battered women or physically abused children, the percentage of overlap ranged from 20% to 100%. When a conservative definition of child abuse was used, a median co-occurrence rate of 40% was found. Five models depicting the directionality of abuse in violent families are proposed and discussed in relation to the data and theories of violence. Recommendations for methodological improvements and theory-driven studies are presented. As early as 1975, reports appeared indicating that children whose parents engaged in physical violence were also likely to be victims of physical maltreatment. Moore (1975) was one of the first to sound the alarm. She discovered that 13% of the children from 23 maritally violent families had been physically hurt or were threatened with violence. That same year, Levine (1975) also commented on the problem of co-occurring violence but found only a 2% rate of overlap between marital violence and physical child abuse. Since that time there have been periodic reports of the overlap between marital violence and physical child abuse--with overlap rates that typically are much higher than either of the rates first reported. However, to
doi:10.1037//0893-3200.12.4.578 fatcat:ikbzmegbuvebdpyc4dmhco5xh4