Among the negative outcomes of child maltreatment is the increased risk for intergenerational continuity of child maltreatment. Despite past literature acknowledging that the pathways toward breaking the cycle are the dynamic interactions of both risk and protective factors, further work is needed to identify those at most risk for perpetration of child maltreatment. In this study, we investigated how exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) and maternal reflective functioning (i.e. pre-mentalization, not recognizing/opacity of mental states, interest and curiosity) relates to risk for maltreatment over and above other known risk factors, hypothesizing that while IPV may increase risk for maltreatment, parental reflective functioning may buffer that risk. The sample consisted of 217 children between the ages of 3- to 6-years-old and their mothers taken from a larger, longitudinal study. After controlling for maternal maltreatment history, there was a significant main effect of IPV increasing risk for maltreatment (β = .146, p < .01), and a significant main effect of maternal engagement in interest and curiosity, (β = .470, p < .05), but no support for moderation. In a separate model, there was a significant interaction between maternal pre-mentalizing states and IPV (β = -.009, p < .05), such that when mothers engage in more pre-mentalizing, IPV is no longer a significant predictor of perpetrating maltreatment, (β = .088, p = .227); however, when mothers do not engage in high pre-mentalizing, IPV remains a significant predictor of perpetrating maltreatment, (β = .236, p < .01). Implications of these findings are discussed.
DSG this week features a talk by Kreila Cote titled "The Intergenerational Transmission of Child Maltreatment: The Role of Reflective Functioning and Intimate Partner Violence" (abstract below).
DSG meets on Tuesdays at 3:30-4:45 in Corbett 378. All are welcome to attend!