Penn study finds physically abused boys may be more likely to commit domestic violence as adults

(Philadelphia, PA) According to a study in the October 18 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, a history of childhood physical abuse may be common in men from urban settings, and these men with physical abuse histories may be more likely to commit domestic violence. The study found that the childhood abuse was primarily committed by parents, with mothers being the most frequent abusers.

"The results provide a circumstantial case that abused boys may 'learn' that violence is an acceptable method of conflict resolution in the home," said William C. Holmes, MD, MSCE, Assistant Professor of Medicine & Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and lead author of the study. "Our findings suggest that, at the very least, this cycle-of-violence connection deserves confirmation in a larger study."

The study was conducted among a sample of 197 men aged 18 to 49, living in Philadelphia zip code areas with high incidence of domestic violence against women and girls. Utilizing a scale that is also used to identify domestic violence among girls and women, the researchers found that 51% of the men experienced at least one form of abuse that met the definition of childhood physical abuse. The mean age at the start of abuse was approximately eight years old; the mean age at the end of abuse was approximately 14 years old. Examples of abuse include being hit with an object or being kicked, bit, choked, burned, scalded, or punched. (Other studies have shown abuse prevalence of 28% in male college graduates and 51% in active duty soldiers in the United States Army.)

The study also found that approximately 75% of the identified abuse was carried out by parents, and of these cases, a considerably larger share was attributed to mothers than to fathers. (The relative amount of time that boys spent with mothers versus fathers--a possible explanation for the difference--was not examined in the study.) Others responsible for abuse in

Contact: Kate Olderman
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

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