Research Article

Neglect, Sexual Abuse, and Witnessing Intimate Partner Violence During Childhood Predicts Later Life Violent Attitudes Against Children Among Kenyan Women: Evidence of Intergenerational Risk Transmission From Cross-Sectional Data


Michael L. Goodman, Andrea Hindman, Philip H. Keiser, Stanley Gitari, Katherine Ackerman Porter, Ben G. Raimer


Goodman, M. L., Hindman, A., Keiser, P. H., Gitari, S., Ackerman Porter, K., & Raimer, B. G. (2017). Neglect, sexual abuse, and witnessing intimate partner violence during childhood predicts later life violent attitudes against children among Kenyan women: Evidence of intergenerational risk transmission from cross-sectional data. Journal of interpersonal violence, 0886260516689777.

Publication Date

Feb 1 2020

Publication Year




Violence against children, including corporal punishment, remains a global concern. Understanding sources of support for corporal punishment within cultures, and the potential for intergenerational transmission of child maltreatment, is essential for policy-development and community engagement to protect children. In this study, we use data from a cross-section of women in Meru County, Kenya (n = 1,974) to profile attitudes toward violence against children using the Velicer Attitudes Towards Violence–Child subscale. We find reported histories of sexual abuse, emotional and physical neglect, and witnessing interpersonal violence during childhood predict more violent attitudes toward children in adulthood. The pathway between these forms of child maltreatment and violent attitudes is significantly mediated by family function, perceived stress, and attitudes toward violence against women. Interventions to prevent sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, and promote attachments between parents and children may benefit future generations in this population. Furthermore, secondary prevention of the effects of these childhood adversities may require development of social support, improving family function and challenging violent attitudes against women.