The children may be psychologically abused by both parents.The authoritarian mother typifies the third family characteristic leading to parental psychological abuse.The first involves a scapegoat child, who may be different from other family members by his or her unattractiveness, disability, having been adopted, or being the child of a former spouse.This child is typically neglected by the parents, treated harshly, and excluded from family intimacy.Straus and Smith find that a combination of several factors is more likely to result in child abuse than is a single factor alone.
(See Figure 3.2.)Child protective services (CPS) workers are faced with the growing problem of substance abuse among families involved with the child welfare system.
Small stresses can have a cumulative effect and become explosive with a relatively minor event.
For potentially abusive parents, high levels of ongoing stress, coupled with inadequate coping strategies and limited resources, produce an extremely high-risk situation for children involved.
Straus and Gelles believe that cultural standards permit violence in the family.
The family, which is the center of love and security in most children's lives, is also the place where the child is punished, sometimes physically.