The internal-external locus of control construct and child abuse

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between child abuse and the level of internal versus external locus of control of child abusing parents. The proposed hypothesis of this study was that child abusing parents or potential child abusers will exhibit a greater degree of externalization of their feelings and emotions than non-child abusers. Therefore, they tend to blame their environment for their actions and/or mistakes. The subjects for this study were sixteen child abusing parents and sixteen non-child abusing parents. Rotter's Internal-External Locus of Control Scale was used to assess the internal-external locus of control of the subjects. Personality characteristics, particularly those related to internal versus external control of child abusing parents were also examined. The growing humanistic and social concern for the effects of child abuse and the abused child's subsequent effect upon society suggested the need for this kind of study. Sixteen parents with substantiated histories of child abuse were compared with an equal number of parents without such histories. All of the parents that participated in this study were native-born Americans. None of the parents had less than twelve years of education; some had completed college. Most of the parents were employed; their occupations ranging from a truck driver to a management level position. Income, residence and class categorizations were determined by a questionnaire. Figures were analyzed using a mean comparison and a t-test to test the hypothesis. Results supported the main hypothesis of this study. In addition to the main hypothesis, some of the other significant conclusions reached from this study include; 1. Child abuse is not restricted to any age group, race or class of people. 2. Child abuse occurs in all communities. Recommendations for future studies were suggested.

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