Parents’ Toxic Trio Ups Risk for Childhood Abuse Tenfold

PsychCentral 23 Dec 2012
Adults who had parents who struggled with addiction, unemployment and divorce are 10 times more likely to have been victims of childhood physical abuse, according to a new study from Canadian researchers.

The study, which was published in the journal Child: Care, Health & Development, found that more than one-third of adults who grew up in homes where all three risk factors were present reported they had been physically abused by someone close to them while under the age of 18 and still living at home.

The study also found that only about 3 percent of those with none of the three risk factors reported they had been physically abused.

Approximately 13 percent of those with one risk factor reported childhood physical abuse. The prevalence of abuse was between 8 and 11 percent for those who had experienced parental divorce alone or parental unemployment alone.

Abuse increased to between 18 percent and 19 percent for those who experienced parental addictions alone, according to the researchers.

But the biggest jump in abuse prevalence was found when these risk factors occurred together. Between 25 and 30 percent of those who had experienced two risk factors reported they had been abused in childhood.

Among those with all three risk factors, the prevalence of abuse was between 36 and 41 percent, representing a ten-fold increase from the 3.4 percent reported by those without any of these risk factors, the researchers noted.