n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Theoretical explanations for parent abuse

Volume 13, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



According to Wilson (1996:101) family violence is a relatively new field of study. In earlier times violence was regarded as an acceptable way for adult men to exert power and control over the behaviour of their relatives and dependants. These actions were accepted by law and policy-makers, and it was not until the 1960s that social scientists, psychologists, the medical world and legislature became concerned with the battered child. This manifestation was increasingly documented during the 1970s and 1980s and constitutes acts of violence by adults and/or parents towards minor children (Charles 1986:343; Paulson, Coombs & Landsvlerk 1990:121). During the 1970s professionals began to write about battered women. Paulson et al (1990:121) identify this type of violence as assault and aggression towards adult women by husbands or other significant adult male figures in the family. More frequently clinical observations, research, newspapers and news bulletins started focusing on acts of violence between spouses and adult violence towards children.

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