August 3, 2021

break the cycle of intergenerational transmission

Can we say that a child, more than another, is predestined to be mistreated? This harsh question, which immediately disturbs, is the subject of the study of an Australian cohort, unprecedented in its scale, carried out retrospectively on more than 38,500 mother-child pairs followed over a period of thirty years, from 1986 to 2017.

The authors, seven multidisciplinary scientists, sought, through the analysis of big data, “To understand as closely as possible the intergenerational transmission of child abuse”, explains the initiator of the project Leonie Segal, Professor of Health Economics and Social Policy, Australian Center for Precision Health, University of South Australia. “Our objective is to provide elements in order to fuel a political response that could disrupt this chain of reproduction. ”

“Our study shows a very high risk of family abuse for children whose mothers have been abused as children. »Leonie Segal, initiator of the study

The results, published in The Lancet Public Health April 30, are eloquent. It seems that “83% of cases of neglect or mistreatment observed on children (2,173 cases out of 2,631)” concern those whose mothers have had a history of contact with child protection services (CPS in Australia). Thus, a child whose mother was the subject of at least one “worrying information” during her childhood is 2.47 times more likely to be mistreated than a child whose mother is not known to her. these services. This figure reaches 6.25 if the mother has been placed young, and for a certain time, outside the family home. An unknown however, “Unfortunately, the data processed did not make it possible to know who was the author of the mistreatment, specified Leonie Segal. But our study shows a very high risk of family abuse for children whose mother has been abused as a child. “

Superimposable results

The intergenerational transmission of violence “Was one of the known and suspected risk factors”, comments Professor Christèle Gras-Le Guen, head of the pediatric emergencies and general pediatrics department of the Nantes University Hospital. “This research of very high methodological quality confirms it by avoiding the bias in obtaining data from certain previously published works. ” Although the study is Australian, she continues, “These results unfortunately seem quite superimposable on what we can see in closer countries, such as recent British work”. For the pediatrician, these statistics materialize a particularly topical problem in this period of health crisis. “Among us, some people are more vulnerable than others, especially because they were subjected to ill-treatment as children. ” Whatever their nature, this physical, sexual or psychological abuse “Complicate the management of emotions and expose this violence or abuse to recur.”

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