Purpose: A family who has a child with developmental disabilities experiences several difficulties in raising the child throughout the years. Furthermore, the families are sometimes confronted by crisis because the family must endure many kinds of excessive burdens at same time. These difficulties may weaken family functioning as well as cause psychological disturbance of parents and strained marital relationships. Child abuse is an extreme result which may stem from difficulties which families suffer. Although researchers have been examining predictors of child abuse since the 1970s, there is still doubt about pathways among the factors that significantly relate with each other. I hypothesized that parental efficacy and parenting behavior would mediate between family factors and child abuse, and would show differences between family factors of models. The aims of the current study are 1) to examine the mediating effects of parent efficacy and parenting behavior between family factors, family functioning and marital relationship, and child abuse, and 2) to confirm the best model with mediating effects.
Method: Total 294 parents who have children with developmental disabilities ranged in age from 0 to 18. Participants were recruited in community welfare center in the Seoul metropolitan area of South Korea. This study examined mediating effects of tow structured models using Structural Equation Model (SEM). Parents were ranged in age from 27 to 63 years of age (M=40.52, SD=5.55). The gender of children with disabilities was 70.7 % son and 29.3% daughter and ranged in age from 0 to 18 years old (M=10.32, SD=4.14).
Results: Two structured models were examined to test mediating effects in the relationship between family factors and child abuse. The result of the first model, parental efficacy and parenting behavior have mediating effect between family functioning and child abuse, showed good model fit (χ2=235.677, P<.001, CFI=.937, TLI=.923, RMSEA=.070) and it was full mediation models. The second model was to examine mediating effect in relationship between marital relationship and child abuse. This structured model also has a good model fit (χ2=305.452, P<.001, CFI=.906, TLI=.884, RMSEA=.085) and has double mediating effects. The findings showed both parental efficacy and parenting behavior have mediate effects between independent variable and dependent variable in two models. Family factors have not direct effect on child abuse.
Implications: The mediating effects of parental efficacy and parenting behavior were confirmed. These findings of this study implied that parenting behavior and parent efficacy are important factors in the prevention of child abuse, and provide a theoretical framework which to establish child abuse prevention programs for parents and families who have a child with developmental disabilities. The results confirmed that family functioning is significantly associated with both mediators. This finding of study suggests that intervention focused on the whole family, not partial relationships, is more appropriate in child abuse area. In addition, this study highlights that child abuse prevention programs are directed to strengthen positive parenting behavior and to improve parental efficacy.