Author

Kylene Krause

Date Approved

2009

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Alissa Huth-Bocks

Committee Member

Carol Freedman-Doan

Committee Member

Dean Lauterbach

Abstract

This study examined how mothers' perceptions of their childhood relationships with their mothers, expectations about being a mother, demographic characteristics, and perceptions of social support are related to a woman's child abuse potential during pregnancy. Data were collected during an initial interview with women during their third trimester of pregnancy as part of a larger longitudinal study. One hundred twenty high-risk women between the ages of 18 and 42 were recruited through fliers from public locations and pregnancy-related programs in southeastern Michigan to participate in this study. Results showed that perceptions of a higher quality childhood relationship with one's mother, and perceptions of childhood experiences of low maternal acceptance, were negatively correlated with child abuse potential. A composite of demographic risk factors including being less than 20 years of age, being near poverty, having more than 3 children, being unmarried, having completed high school or less, and not being enrolled in public assistance programs when eligible was positively correlated with child abuse potential. Social support did not moderate relationships between perceptions of childhood relationship with mothers and child abuse potential or between demographic risk and child abuse potential. Instead, it was directly associated with child abuse potential above and beyond these two predictors. Moderate, realistic expectations about having a baby (as opposed to extremely positive or negative expectations) were not correlated with lower child abuse potential. Results from this study have important implications for intervention programs to prevent child abuse.

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