European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 389–397

Evaluation of family drawings of physically and sexually abused children

  • Francesca Piperno
  • Stefania Di Biasi
  • Gabriel Levi
ORIGINAL CONTRIBUTION
  • 443 Downloads

Abstract

Objective

The aim of this study is to analyse the family drawings of two groups of physically and/or sexually abused children as compared to the drawings of non-abused children of a matched control group.

Methods

The drawings by 12 physically abused, 12 sexually abused and 12 non-abused children, all aged between 5 years-old and 10 years-old, were assessed and compared. Family drawings were analysed using a specific Screening Inventory (FDI-Family Drawing Inventory). This Inventory takes into consideration such qualitative and quantitative variables as the quality of drawing, the children’s perception of their family members and their own perception of themselves within the family system.

Results

The results have shown significant differences between the abused minors and the control group. Abused children are more likely to draw distorted bodies, the human figure is usually represented devoid of details, their drawings generally show clear signals of trauma and the majority of the abused children are likely to exclude their primary caregiver from the drawings.

Conclusions

The “drawings of the family” of physically and/or sexually abused children significantly evidence a greater emotional distress then the drawings of the non-abused children of the matched control group.

Keywords

abused children sexually physically drawings 

References

  1. 1.
    Bender LA (1938) A visual Motor Gestalt Test and its clinical use research monograph. Am Ortopsychiatric Assess, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bruening CC, Wagner WG, Johnson JT (1997) Impact of rater knowledge on sexually abused and nonabused girls’ scores on the Draw-a-Person: screening procedure for emotional disturbance. J Pers Assess 68:665–677PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Burgess AW, Hartman CR (1993) Children’s drawings. Child Abuse Negl 17:161–168PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Carpenter M, Kennedy M, Amstrong AL, Moore E (1997) Indicators of abuse or neglect in preschool children’s drawings. J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv 35:10–17PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Castellazzi VL (1996) Il test del disegno della famiglia, LAS, RomaGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Castellazzi VL, Nannini MF (1992) Il disegno della figura umana come tecnica proiettiva. LAS, RomaGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cohen-Liebman M (1995) Drawings as judiciary aids in child sexual abuse litigation: a composite list of indicators. Arts Psychother 22:475–483CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Corman L (1967) Le test du dessin de famille dans la pratique medico-pedagogique. Presses Universitaires de France, ParisGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cox M (1993) Children’s drawings of the human figure. LEA, HoveGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Czenner Z (1986) The reliability of information gained by a child’s drawings. Acta Med Leg Soc (Liege) 36:119–207Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Di Leo J (1970) Young children and their drawings. Brunner/Mazel, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ferro A (1992) La tecnica nella Psicoanalisi Infantile. Edizioni Scientifiche Magi, CortinaGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Freeman NH (1980) Strategies of representation in young children. Analysis of spatial skills and drawing processes. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Hammer E (1997) Advances in projective drawing interpretation. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, ILGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kaufman J, Birmaher B, Brent D (1997) Schedule for affective disorders and schizofrenia for school-age children-present and lifetime version (K-SADS-PL): initial reability and validity data. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 36:980–988PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kellogg R (1970) Analysing children’art. National Press Books, Palo Alto, CAGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kerig PK, Fedorowics AE, Brown CA, Warren M (2000) Assessment and intervention for PTSD in children exposed to violence. The Haworth Maltreatment & Trauma Press 3:161–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Koch K (1949) Der Baumtest. Hans Hube, BernGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Koverola C, Pound J, Heger A, Lytle C (1993) Relationship of child sexual abuse to depression. Child Abuse Negl 17:393–400PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Leo J (1973) I disegni dei bambini come aiuto diagnostico. Giusti Barbera, FirenzeGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Levi G (1993) Trauma, rappresentazione e violenza mentale. Imago 1:2–3Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Liberman A, Van Horn P (1998) Attachment, trauma, and domestic violence: Implication for child custody. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am 7:423–443Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Luquet GH (1913) Les Dessin D’un Enfant: Etude Psychologique. New York, AlcanGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Luquet GH (1927) Il disegno infantile. Armando, RomaGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Machover K (1949) Personality projection in the drawings of the human figure. C.C. Thomas, SpringfieldGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Mortone N, Browne K (1998) Theory and observation of attachment and its relation to child maltreatment: a review. Child Abuse Negl 22:1093–1104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Piaget J (1927) La causalitè phisique chez l’enfant. PUF, ParisGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Piaget J, Inhelder B (1956) The child conception of space. Routledge & Kegan Paul, LondonGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Piaget J, Inhelder B (1969) The psychology of the child. Routledge & Kegan Paul, New York. Basic Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Piaget J, Inhelder B (1971) Mental imagery in the child. Basic Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Pratt C (2001) The predictive impact of domestic violence on three types of child maltreatment. Child Abuse Negl 25:869–883PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Tambelli R, Zavattini GC, Mossi P (1995) Il senso della famiglia. Le relazioni affettive del bambino nel “Disegno della Famiglia”. La Nuova Italia, RomaGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Thomas GV, Gray R (1992) Children’s drawings of topics differing in emotional significance: effects on placement relative to a self drawing. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 33:1097–1104PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Thomas GV, Jolley RP (1998) Drawing conclusions: a re-examination of empirical and conceptual bases for psychological evaluation of children from their drawings. J Clin Psychol 37:127–139Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Thomas GV, Silk AMJ (1990) An introduction to the psychology of children’s drawings. Harvester Wheastheaf, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Veltman MW, Browne KD (2000) Pictures in the classroom: can teachers and mental health professionals identify maltreated children’s drawings? Child Abuse Rev 9:328–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Veltman MW, Browne KD (2001) Three decades of child maltreatment research implications for school years. Trauma, Violence Abuse 2(3):215–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Veltman MW, Browne KD (2001) Identifying childhood abuse through favourite kind of day and kinetic family drawings. Arts Psychother 28(4):251–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Veltman MW, Browne KD (2002) The assessment of drawings from children who have been maltreated: a systematic review. Child Abuse Rev 11(1):19–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Veltman MW, Browne KD (2002) Trained raters’ evaluation of Kinetic Family Drawings of physically abused children. Arts Psychother 625:1–10Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesca Piperno
    • 1
  • Stefania Di Biasi
    • 2
  • Gabriel Levi
    • 3
  1. 1.Developmental Psychiatry Section, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma and Child Abuse Research GroupUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma and Child Abuse Research GroupUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly
  3. 3.Department of Child and Adolescent Neurology and PsychiatryUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly

Personalised recommendations