Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-zlj4b Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-28T20:24:48.326Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Intergenerational associations in physical maltreatment: Examination of mediation by delinquency and substance use, and moderated mediation by anger

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2018

Deborah M. Capaldi*
Oregon Social Learning Center
Stacey S. Tiberio
Oregon Social Learning Center New York University
Katherine C. Pears
Oregon Social Learning Center
David C. R. Kerr
Oregon Social Learning Center Oregon State University
Lee D. Owen
Oregon Social Learning Center
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Deborah M. Capaldi, Oregon Social Learning Center, 10 Shelton McMurphey Blvd, Eugene, Oregon, 97410; E-mail:


Findings as to whether individuals’ experiences of physical maltreatment from their parents in childhood predict their own perpetration of physical maltreatment toward their children in adulthood are mixed. Whether the maltreatment experienced is severe versus moderate or mild may relate to the strength of intergenerational associations. Furthermore, understanding of the roles of possible mediators (intervening mechanisms linking these behaviors) and moderators of the intervening mechanisms (factors associated with stronger or weaker mediated associations) is still relatively limited. These issues were examined in the present study. Mediating mechanisms based on a social learning model included antisocial behavior as assessed by criminal behaviors and substance use (alcohol and drug use), and the extent to which parental angry temperament moderated any indirect effects of antisocial behavior was also examined. To address these issues, data were used from Generations 2 and 3 of a prospective three-generational study, which is an extension of the Oregon Youth Study. Findings indicated modest intergenerational associations for severe physical maltreatment. There was a significant association of maltreatment history, particularly severe maltreatment with mothers’ and fathers’ delinquency. However, neither delinquency nor substance use showed significant mediational effects, and parental anger as a moderator of mediation did not reach significance.

Special Section Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Akaike, H. (1987). Factor analysis and AIC. Psychometrika, 52, 317332.Google Scholar
Asparouhov, T., & Muthén, B. O. (2014). Auxiliary variables in mixture modeling: Using the BCH method in Mplus to estimate a distal outcome model and an arbitrary secondary model. Mplus Web Notes, 21, 122.Google Scholar
Bailey, J. A., Hill, K. G., Guttmannova, K., Oesterle, S., Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., & McMahon, R. J. (2013). The association between parent early adult drug use disorder and later observed parenting practices and child behavior problems: Testing alternate models. Developmental Psychology, 49, 887899. doi:10.1037/a0029235Google Scholar
Bailey, J. A., Hill, K. G., Oesterle, S., & Hawkins, J. D. (2009). Parenting practices and problem behavior across three generations: Monitoring, harsh discipline and drug use in the intergenerational transmission of externalizing behavior. Developmental Psychology, 45, 12141226. doi:10.1037/a0016129Google Scholar
Belsky, J., Conger, R. D., & Capaldi, D. M. (2009). The intergenerational transmission of parenting: Introduction to the special section. Developmental Psychology, 45, 12011204. doi:10.1037/a0016245Google Scholar
Berger, A. M., Knutson, J. F., Mehm, J. G., & Perkins, K. A. (1988). The self-report of punitive childhood experiences of young adults and adolescents. Child Abuse & Neglect, 12, 251262.Google Scholar
Berlin, L. J., Appleyard, K., & Dodge, K. A. (2011). Intergenerational continuity in child maltreatment: Mediating mechanisms and implications for prevention. Child Development, 82, 162176. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01547.x.Google Scholar
Buss, A. H., & Plomin, R. (1984). Temperament: Early developing personality traits. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Capaldi, D. M., Knoble, N. B., Shortt, J. W., & Kim, H. K. (2012). A systematic review of risk factors for intimate partner violence. Partner Abuse, 3, 231280. doi:10.1891/1946-6560.3.2.231Google Scholar
Elliott, D. S. (1983). Interview schedule, National Youth Survey. Boulder, CO: Behavioral Research Institute.Google Scholar
Elliott, D. S., Ageton, S. S., Huizinga, D., Knowles, B. A., & Canter, R. J. (1983). The prevalence and incidence of delinquent behavior: 1976–1980. National estimates of delinquent behavior by sex, race, social class, and other selected variables (National Youth Survey Report No. 26). Boulder, CO: Behavioral Research Institute.Google Scholar
Feingold, A., Kerr, D. C. R., & Capaldi, D. M. (2008). Associations of substance use problems with intimate partner violence for at-risk men in long-term relationships. Journal of Family Psychology, 22, 429438. doi:10.1037/0893-3200.22.3.429Google Scholar
Foran, H. M., & O'Leary, K. D. (2008). Alcohol and intimate partner violence: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 28, 12221234.Google Scholar
Hardt, J., & Rutter, M. (2004). Validity of adult retrospective reports of adverse childhood experiences: Review of the evidence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 260273. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00218.xGoogle Scholar
Hollingshead, A. B. (1975). Four-Factor Index of Social Status. Unpublished manuscript, Yale University, Department of Sociology.Google Scholar
Kerr, D. C. R., & Capaldi, D. M. (in press). Intergenerational transmission of parenting. In Bornstein, M. H. (Ed.), Handbook of parenting (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Lo, Y., Mendell, N., & Rubin, D. (2001). Testing the number of components in a normal mixture. Biometrika, 88, 767778.Google Scholar
Lynch, M., & Cicchetti, D. (1998). An ecological-transactional analysis of children and contexts: The longitudinal interplay among child maltreatment, community violence, and children's symptomatology. Developmental Psychopathology, 10, 233257.Google Scholar
MacKinnon, D. P. (2008). Introduction to statistical mediation analysis. New York: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998–2015). Mplus user's guide (7th ed.). Los Angeles: Author.Google Scholar
Neppl, T. K., Conger, R. D., Scaramella, L. V., & Ontai, L. L. (2009). Intergenerational continuity in parenting behavior: Mediating pathways and child effects. Developmental Psychology, 45, 12411256. doi:10.1037/a0014850Google Scholar
Nylund, K. L., Asparouhov, T., & Muthén, B. O. (2007). Deciding on the number of classes in latent class analysis and growth mixture modeling. A Monte Carlo simulation study. Structural Equation Modeling, 14, 535569. doi:10.1080/10705510701575396Google Scholar
Patterson, G. R. (1998). Continuities—A search for causal mechanisms: Comment on the special section. Developmental Psychology, 34, 12631268. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.34.6.1263Google Scholar
Pears, K. C., & Capaldi, D. M. (2001). Intergenerational transmission of abuse: A two-generation, prospective study of an at-risk sample. Child Abuse & Neglect, 25, 14391461. doi:10.1016/S0145-2134(01)00286-1Google Scholar
Preacher, K. J., Rucker, D. D., & Hayes, A. F. (2007). Addressing moderated mediation hypotheses: Theory, methods, and prescriptions. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 42, 185227. doi:10.1080/00273170701341316Google Scholar
Reid, J. B., Patterson, G. R., & Snyder, J. (Eds.) (2002). Antisocial behavior in children and adolescents: A developmental analysis and model for intervention. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
Schofield, T. J., Conger, R. D., & Conger, K. J. (2017). Disrupting intergenerational continuity in harsh parenting: Self-control and a supportive partner. Development and Psychopathology, 29, 12791287. doi:10.1017/S0954579416001309Google Scholar
Schofield, T. J., Lee, R. D., & Merrick, M. T. (2013). Safe, stable, nurturing relationships as a moderator of intergenerational continuity of child maltreatment: A meta-analysis. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53, S32S38. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.05.004Google Scholar
Stith, M. S., Liu, T., Davies, L. C., Boykin, E. L., Alder, M. C., Harris, J. M., … Dees, J. E. (2009). Risk factors in child maltreatment: A meta-analytic review of the literature. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14, 1329. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2006.03.006Google Scholar
Straus, M. A., & Hamby, S. L. (1997). Measuring physical and psychological maltreatment of children with the Conflict Tactics Scales. In Kantor, G. K. & Jasinski, J. L. (Eds.), Out of the darkness: Contemporary research perspectives on family violence (pp. 119135). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
Straus, M. A., & Mathur, A. K. (1996). Social change and change in approval of corporal punishment by parents from 1968 to 1994. In Frehsee, D., Horn, W., & Bussman, K. D. (Eds.), Family violence against children: A challenge for society (pp. 91105). New York: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
Straus, M. A., & Stewart, J. H. (1999). Corporal punishment by American parents: National data on prevalence, chronicity, severity, and duration, in relation to child and family characteristics. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 2, 5570.Google Scholar
Thornberry, T. P. (2016). Three generation studies: Methodological challenges and promise. In Shanahan, M. J., Mortimer, J. T., & Johnson, M. K. (Eds.), Handbook of the life course (1st ed., Vol. 2, pp. 571598). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
Thornberry, T. P., Freeman-Gallant, A., Lizotte, A. J., Krohn, M. D., & Smith, C. A. (2003). Linked lives: The intergenerational transmission of antisocial behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 31, 171184. doi:10.1023/A:1022574208366Google Scholar
Thornberry, T. P., & Henry, K. L. (2013). Intergenerational continuity in maltreatment. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 41, 555569. doi:10.1007/s10802-012-9697-5Google Scholar
Thornberry, T. P., Knight, K. E., & Lovegrove, P. J. (2012). Does maltreatment beget maltreatment? A systematic review of the intergenerational literature. Trauma, Violence, and Abuse, 13, 135152. doi:10.1177/1524838012447697Google Scholar
Tremblay, R. E., Nagin, D. S., Séguin, J. R., Zoccolillo, M., Zelazo, P. D., Boivin, M., … Japel, C. (2004). Physical aggression during early childhood: Trajectories and predictors. Pediatrics, 114, e43e50.Google Scholar
Walsh, C., MacMillan, H. L., & Jamieson, E. (2003). The relationship between parental substance abuse and child maltreatment: Findings from the Ontario Health Supplement. Child Abuse & Neglect, 27, 14091425. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2003.07.002Google Scholar
Widom, C. S. (1989). The cycle of violence. Science, 244, 160165.Google Scholar
Widom, C. S., Czaja, S. J., & DuMont, K. A. (2015). Intergenerational transmission of child abuse and neglect: Real or detection bias? Science, 347, 14801485. doi:10.1126/science.1259917Google Scholar
Widom, C. S., & Wilson, H. W. (2015). Intergenerational transmission of violence. In Lindert, J. & Levav, I. (Eds.), Violence and mental health: Its manifold faces (pp. 2745). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
Yankelvich, D. (2000). What grown-ups understand about child development: A national benchmark survey. (CIVITIS Initiative, Zero to Three, Brio, Researched by DYG). Danbury, CT: DYG, Inc.Google Scholar