Intergenerational child maltreatment: A population-based multi-generational examination of maltreatment (dis)continuity

Emma McKenzie, Dr Carleen Thompson1, Dr Emily Hurren2, Dr Stacy Tzoumakis1, Professor Anna Stewart1

1Griffith University, Mount Gravatt, Australia
2CQUniversity Australia, Brisbane, Australia

There is a common assumption that maltreatment begets maltreatment; however, continuity of child maltreatment across generations is not inevitable. While a maltreatment victimisation history is an established risk factor for intergenerational maltreatment, many parents with a victimisation history do not maltreat, and many parents with no victimisation history do have victimised children. Our research provides a comprehensive exploration of this phenomenon, identifying the factors that may impact the likelihood of maltreatment continuity or discontinuity across generations. We utilise linked, prospective, longitudinal, administrative data from the Queensland Cross-Sector Research Collaboration (QCRC) data repository, which includes life course data reflecting all QLD child protection system contacts (as victim or person responsible for harm towards a child) of individuals in three birth cohorts (1983, 1984, and 1990). By highlighting factors that are influential in determining future pathways to maltreating, our research has important implications for enhancing intervention planning and, ultimately, improving outcomes for at-risk children and families.


Emma McKenzie is a doctoral candidate in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University. The focus of her doctoral research is intergenerational child maltreatment, with consideration of the risk and protective factors associated with breaking, maintaining, or initiating child maltreatment across generations. An important contribution of her research is the verification that individuals’ pathways are not set; being a victim of child maltreatment does not inevitably lead to becoming a perpetrator.


Dec 10 2021