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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 201470 Find in a Library
Title: Relationships Between Maternal Adult Attachment Security, Child Perceptions of Maternal Support, and Maternal Perceptions of Child Responses to Sexual Abuse
Journal: Journal of Child Sexual Abuse  Volume:11  Issue:3  Dated:2002  Pages:107-124
Author(s): Myra Leifer; Teresa Kilbane; Linda I. Skolnick
Date Published: 2002
Page Count: 18
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined the effects of maternal attachment style on children’s reactions to sexual abuse.
Abstract: The authors draw on attachment theory to develop an empirically based conceptualization of the impact of child sexual abuse that focuses on the relational conditions in which the abuse was experienced. Specifically under examination were the relationships between maternal attachment style, children’s perceptions of maternal support following a disclosure of sexual abuse, and maternal perceptions of children’s behavioral and emotional responses to sexual abuse. Participants were 196 African-American children between the ages of 4 and 12 and their mothers who were involved in a larger study examining issues of intergenerational abuse; 96 of the children had experienced sexual abuse and 100 had not. Interviews with the mothers, the children, and assessment scales completed by the mothers measured maternal history, demographic information, abuse-related information, the child’s perception of maternal support, child behavior problems, and maternal attachment style. Results of statistical analysis did not support the hypothesis that a less secure maternal attachment style would be associated with a greater incidence of child sexual abuse. The majority of both mothers of sexually abused children and non-sexually abused children demonstrated low levels of secure attachment. Other significant findings indicated that mothers with insecure attachment styles reported more internalizing behaviors in their sexually abused children than did securely attached mothers. Mothers of non-abused children who had insecure attachment styles reported higher rates of externalizing behaviors in their children than did mothers with secure attachment styles. The sexually abused children’s perceptions of maternal support were not associated with maternal attachment style or child functioning. The authors stress the importance of fostering the parent-child relationship to decrease behavior problems and related symptoms in sexually abused children. References
Main Term(s): Child Sexual Abuse; Comparative analysis
Index Term(s): Child victims; Family structure; Family support
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