Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 215–222 | Cite as

Verbal and Physical Abuse Toward Mothers: The Role of Family Configuration, Environment, and Coping Strategies

  • Linda Pagani
  • Denis Larocque
  • Frank Vitaro
  • Richard E. Tremblay


This paper focuses on parental maltreatment, a rarely documented phenomenon. We prospectively examine factors that can increase the risk of abusive behavior toward mothers. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between a stressful family situation, parental divorce, and verbal and physical aggression toward mothers. We use a large Canadian sample of adolescents who have been followed since kindergarten. At age 15, we assessed verbal and physical abuse toward mothers, as reported by both mothers and their adolescents. Multinomial logit modeling revealed that parental divorce was associated with a greater risk of physical aggression directed toward mothers by adolescents. Family environment and parental coping strategies partially mediated that relationship. Mothers who divorced, and remained divorced, were at greater risk of being assaulted by their adolescent children. A positive family environment, reflecting a better parent–child relationship, partially diminished this risk. However, support-seeking behavior on the part of mothers increased the risk of abuse, concurrent with tyrannical strategies often mobilized by abusive children.

aggression toward parents violence against parents 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda Pagani
    • 1
    • 2
  • Denis Larocque
    • 3
  • Frank Vitaro
    • 2
  • Richard E. Tremblay
    • 2
  1. 1.Université de MontréalCanada
  2. 2.Centre de Recherche de l'Hôpital Ste-JustineCanada
  3. 3.École des Hautes Études CommercialesUniversité de MontréalCanada

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