Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 105–119 | Cite as

The influence of personal history of abuse and gender on clinicians' judgments of child abuse

  • Allison C. Howe
  • Sharon Herzberger
  • Howard Tennen


Two extra-legal factors were examined for their influence on professionals' decisions to report child abuse: having been abused as a child oneself, and the gender of the child, the parent, and the professional. One hundred and one men and women who worked regularly with children in mental health settings rated a series of scenarios presented as cases from a protective service agency. Participants made several judgments regarding the case including the severity of the parent's behavior, the likely effect on the child, whether the situation was abusive, and whether the case should be reported to a social service agency. Despite some interpretive limitations, the results generally support the hypothesis that extra-legal factors influence the perceptions of professionals who are mandated to report a suspected incident of abuse.

Key words

child abuse extra-legal factors personal history of abuse gender effects 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allison C. Howe
    • 1
  • Sharon Herzberger
    • 2
  • Howard Tennen
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrs
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyTrinity CollegeHartford
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Connecticut Health CenterFarmington

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