ERIC Number: ED223966
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Aug
Reference Count: 0
The Social Definition of Child Abuse.
Herzberger, Sharon D.; Tennen, Howard A.
The lack of uniform definition of child abuse has caused researchers and practitioners to center debate on whether abuse should be defined according to the characteristics of the parental act or its consequences to the child. To examine how the situational context and the characteristics of the individual applying the label of abuse affect judgments of abusive and nonabusive disciplinary interactions, male (N=62) and female (N=70) students read vignettes describing emotional and physical disciplinary interactions between parents and children and were asked to judge them based on different criteria, e.g., severity of the interaction, appropriateness of the parental act, and whether the act was abusive or nonabusive. Half of the participants were told of a provocative act by the child which preceded the discipline. Results indicated that subjects who were treated similarly as children generally judged the punishment to be less severe and not abusive. Results also supported the hypothesis that awareness of the child's behavior would mitigate judgments of the parent's response. The findings suggest that the failure to condemn abusive treatment may contribute to the increased incidence of abuse among parents who were abused as children. In addition, the findings suggest that abuse cannot be objectively defined, and that it is judged in accordance with the social context. (PAS)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (90th, Washington, DC, August 23-27, 1982).