The intergenerational cycle of child maltreatment: Continuity versus discontinuity

Susan Zuravin, Curtis McMillen, Diane DePanfilis, Christina Risley-Curtiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Few studies have focused on identifying characteristics that discriminate between parents who break versus those who perpetuate intergenerational cycles of child maltreatment. Both the dose and the attachment hypotheses were examined in this study of 213 mothers maltreated as children in one of three ways (beatings, neglect, or sexual abuse). Maltreatment continuity versus discontinuity was assessed through substantiated reports to a Child Protective Services (CPS) agency over a 7-year period. Findings were consistent with the attachment hypothesis. Poorer quality attachment relationships in childhood increased the probability of transmission. Findings were consistent with the dose hypothesis for only one conceptualization of dose. Those mothers who had experienced severe forms of sexual abuse (experienced coitus vs. did not) were more likely to have a maltreated child. These findings are discussed in terms of current theory and research on intergenerational maltreatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-334
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of interpersonal violence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'The intergenerational cycle of child maltreatment: Continuity versus discontinuity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this