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Parents of Battered Babies: A Controlled Study

Br Med J 1973; 4 doi: (Published 17 November 1973) Cite this as: Br Med J 1973;4:388
  1. Selwyn M. Smith,
  2. Ruth Hanson,
  3. Sheila Noble


    A controlled investigation of 214 parents of battered babies shows that they were young and predominantly of lower social class. Premature parenthood is an associated feature. Among the mothers 76% had an abnormal personality and 48% were neurotic. Nearly half were of borderline or subnormal intelligence; 11% had a criminal record. Of the fathers 64% had an abnormal personality, more than half being psychopaths. Twenty-nine per cent. had a criminal record. Recidivism is an associated feature.

    The risk of battering possibly diminishes with time. The teaching of appropriate child-rearing skills, symptomatic relief, and social relearning are suggested as realistically based treatment methods and should be combined with a care order. When response to treatment appears unlikely permanent removal from parental care should be considered.