Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Jane Stafford

Second Advisor

Keri Weed

Third Advisor

Laura Swain


Introduction: Previous research has identified maternal history of child abuse as a predictor of their child’s experiences, otherwise known as an intergenerational continuity of abuse (ICA). Adolescent mothers have been identified as having a higher prevalence of childhood sexual, emotional, and physical abuse histories, placing their children at high risk. A prior study with the current sample found that 66% of adolescent mothers had been a victim of childhood sexual, physical, or emotional abuse and of these, 78.1% of their children reported having a history of abuse at age 18. Method: Utilizing data from the 18-year-long Notre Dame Adolescent Parenting Project (NDAPP), the current study is a secondary analysis that serves to fill several gaps in the child abuse literature by further investigating ICA. Maternal CSA has been identified as being highly correlated with adolescent pregnancy. The current sample consists of 74 mother-child dyads who continued the study until the child reached the age of 18. The current study utilizes data that was collected with the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ; Bernstein & Fink, 1998), Child Abuse Potential Inventory (CAPI; Milner, 1986) and Recent Exposure to Violence Scale (Singer, et al., 1995). Results: Maternal CSA was found to significantly predict childhood physical abuse experienced by their children. Daughters reported significantly greater severity ratings of childhood emotional abuse than sons. 19% of mother-child dyads in the current sample provided evidence of ICA. Gender and witnessing violence were found to be the greatest predictors of ICA. Conclusions: These findings can be utilized to develop screeners that specifically ask about abuse history and other factors in order to take preventative measures for ICA. In addition to screeners, parenting classes designed specifically to address ICA can potentially save children of upcoming generations and put an end to the ongoing cycle of ICA.