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Adolescent male victims and perpetrators of child sexual abuse: Maternal attributions

New, Michelle Jennifer Claire; (1995) Adolescent male victims and perpetrators of child sexual abuse: Maternal attributions. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This study forms part of a research programme investigating adolescent male victims and perpetrators of child sexual abuse. The focus is on maternal attributions for negative events. Maternal attributions have been identified as important markers of distressed relationships. Previous research into physically abusive mothers raised a number of specific hypotheses regarding attributions of non-abusive or 'bystander' parents. This study represents the first attempt to assess systematically causal attributions in a unique clinical sample. The sample consisted of eighty mothers of 11 - 15 year old boys. The design included four groups of victims, victimised perpetrators and perpetrators of child sexual abuse, the three case groups, and an antisocial comparison group. The Leeds Attributional Coding System (LACS) was used to code attributions made by these mothers extracted from verbatim transcripts of interviews. Attributions were coded along five causal dimensions (Stable, Global, Internal, Personal, Universal). The advantages of coding spoken attributions compared to traditional analogue methods are discussed. Findings suggest high rates of previous child sexual abuse, adult physical abuse and current depression in the mothers. The implications of these findings for the study of attributions and for clinical intervention are discussed. There were few group differences on the causal dimensions. A discrepancy score for perceived control over negative outcomes revealed significant differences between the case groups and the antisocial comparison group. It was concluded that maternal attributions may not be direct mediators of developmental pathways but are likely to reflect maternal coping styles. In this study, a 'defensive' coping style characterised by avoidance and active repression of difficult topics was proposed on the basis of a 'low mention' of abuse in the mothers' negative attributions. The implications for intervention and future research are discussed in light of this finding.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Adolescent male victims and perpetrators of child sexual abuse: Maternal attributions
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Psychology; Child sexual abuse; Maternal attributions
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10098960
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