skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 194427 Find in a Library
Title: Abusive Relationships, Care and Control Conflicts and Insecure Attachments
Journal: Child Abuse Review  Volume:10  Issue:6  Dated:November-December 2001  Pages:411-427
Author(s): Peter Reder; Sylvia Duncan
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 17
Type: Literature Review; Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This paper compares two frameworks for understanding child physical abuse or neglect -- "unresolved care and control conflicts" and "insecure attachments" -- and then advocates their more specific use in the assessment of child physical abuse or neglect.
Abstract: In two studies of fatal child abuse, the authors found that in about half of the cases there was clear evidence of childhood abuse, neglect, or rejection in the caretakers' histories. In adult life, these caretakers often displayed violence or criminality, domestic violence, threatening behavior toward professionals, problems of alcohol and/or drug misuse, and considerable ongoing difficulties in prioritizing their children's needs. Two core themes were apparent: tensions about being cared for and caring for others ("care" conflicts); and tensions about self-control, wishing to control others, and fearing control by them ("control" conflicts). Attachment theory describes an innate dynamic in which an infant, when faced with stress arising internally or externally, seeks proximity to a reliable parental figure, who in turn is expected to respond sensitively to the infant's needs and provide a secure base from which the infant can explore the world. Rejection of the child's attachment overtures may lead to anxiety and an internal working model of other people as unreliable, hostile, rejecting, or frightening. Bowlby (1988) has described abusive parents as typically yearning for care but expecting only rejection, because of childhood experiences of rejection, unreliable or hostile parenting, or threats of abandonment. Although critical of the lack of specificity in attachment theory, the authors recommend retaining "attachment" notions to refer to those early experiences of infancy that were based on the survival dynamic as originally described by Bowlby. Derivatives of these experiences may be manifest over subsequent years in the developing child's functioning and modes of relating and are likely to be reinforced by continuing adversity or modified by more reliable parenting experience. The concept of "unresolved care and control conflicts" could apply to more general aspects of relating, the origins of which may be in early attachment difficulties or in adversity later in the child's development. 59 references
Main Term(s): Parent-Child Relations
Index Term(s): Child abuse; Child abuse causes; Parental attitudes; Parental influence
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.