Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 311–322 | Cite as

Child Victims' Attributions about Being Physically Abused: An Examination of Factors Associated with Symptom Severity

  • Elissa J. Brown
  • David J. Kolko


The goal of the present study was to examine a conceptual attributional model for the development of psychopathology after child physical abuse. Physically abused or maltreated children referred for treatment completed a series of measures to assess parent-to-child violence, abuse-specific attributions and general attributional style, other potential predictors, and children's psychopathology. Results revealed that the severity of current parent-to-child violence was associated with children's internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Attributions predicted the level of children's psychopathology beyond the variance accounted for by the severity of parent-to-child violence. The severity of parent-to-child violence, attributions about the abuse, general attributional style, and level of family functioning accounted for 28%–63% of the variance in children's abuse-specific, internalizing, and externalizing symptoms. Implications of the findings and research recommendations are discussed.

Child physical abuse attributions internalizing symptoms externalizing symptoms 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryMount Sinai Medical CenterNew York
  2. 2.Western Psychiatric Institute and ClinicUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical CenterPittsburgh

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