Environments Recreated: The Unique Struggles of Children Born to Abused Mothers

  • Jennie G. Noll
  • Jonathan M. Reader
  • Heather Bensman
Part of the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network book series (CMSN)


Approaches to understanding the intergenerational transmission of child maltreatment are complex and often fail to take into account the multiple forms of maltreatment including childhood sexual abuse. The goal of the current chapter is to discuss the developmental trajectories of individuals born to women who experienced childhood sexual abuse. Using examples from the results of a 30 year longitudinal cohort study, the current chapter argues that while these women are unlikely to sexually abuse their children directly, they are at great risk for creating an environment that fails to protect their children. Beginning prenatally and continuing through adolescence into their own adulthoods, these children are at greater risk for experiencing hardships including premature birth, cognitive disadvantage, and attachment insecurity, putting them at risk for becoming abused themselves. Implications for clinicians and policymakers to prevent future instances of childhood sexual abuse by disrupting the intergenerational transmission are discussed.


Child sexual abuse Intergenerational transmission Longitudinal cohort study Home environment Child protective services 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennie G. Noll
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jonathan M. Reader
    • 1
  • Heather Bensman
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA
  2. 2.Network on Child Protection and WellbeingThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical PsychologyCincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical CenterCincinnatiUSA

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