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NCJ Number: 221641 Find in a Library
Title: Maternal Depression and Trait Anger as Risk Factors for Escalated Physical Discipline
Journal: Child Maltreatment  Volume:13  Issue:1  Dated:February 2008  Pages:39-49
Author(s): Nicole L. Shay; John F. Knutson
Date Published: February 2008
Page Count: 11
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study tested the indirect effect of maternal depression, mediated by trait anger, on escalated discipline in response to persistent child transgressions.
Abstract: Findings suggest that although depression is a risk factor that can emerge in a high-risk sample, it is the irritability of the depressed mother that contributes to physical abuse. To reduce the risk of abuse among depressed mothers, in addition to focusing on parent management training and helping depressed mothers to improve behavior of their children, it may be worthwhile to focus on efforts at increasing maternal tolerance for annoying behaviors of children. Additionally, more general efforts to reduce anger, such as anger management training, or psychiatric medications that could reduce mothers' depression and anger, could contribute to a reduction in risk for child maltreatment. Findings suggest that anger and irritability are central to the link between depression and harsh discipline. Importantly, the present findings also make it possible to place the role of maternal depression in abusive discipline in the border context of a discipline mediated model of child maltreatment and models of family coercion. If harsher discipline increases risk for the emergence of deviant behavior, it suggests that maternal depression and child's behavior could interact in a reciprocating coercive process to yield harsh discipline and to further compromise both child behavior and maternal affect. The results of the present study contribute to a conceptualization of maternal depression as a process variable in parenting, rather than a relatively static diagnostic risk factor in poor child outcomes. The sample for the study was 122 economically disadvantaged biological mothers who had previously enrolled in a 3 year longitudinal study of parenting and children's social development. Escalation of physical discipline was assessed using a video analog parenting task; maternal anger not specific to discipline was assessed using a Spielberger Trait Anger Expression Inventory. Reports of anger were associated with the diagnosis of depression and depressive symptoms. Figure, tables, references
Main Term(s): Behavior under stress; Child abuse; Mental health
Index Term(s): Behavior patterns; Behavioral and Social Sciences; Individual behavior; Problem behavior
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