Why do parents beat children

"Some mothers find their children annoying"

The psychologist Helen Gavin on the causes of female violence - the British woman is one of the few women in the world who is on the subject female violence researches relationships and families.

Interview: Christine Amrhein
Images: Photocase & zVg

Ms. Gavin, how often do mothers abuse their children?

Research has shown that between 4 and 16 percent of children in our Western society are physically abused and another 10 percent are neglected. In about half of the cases, the violence originates from the mother. This is also due to the fact that mothers are usually more at home than fathers. So they spend more time with their children and therefore have more “opportunity” to engage in violence.

What forms of violence are there?

Women can engage in all kinds of violence against their children: severe physical violence, sexual assault, disregarding physical needs, but also emotional abuse such as devaluation, rejection or withdrawal of love. Some mothers give their children medication to calm them down. Finally, there is the Münchhausen proxy syndrome: Here, the mother artificially triggers symptoms of illness in her child - for example with medication - in order to gain attention and care.

Why do mothers strike?

Often they feel concerned mothers overwhelmed - either with the child or through simultaneous professional demands. Many have difficulty regulating their emotions appropriately. Some also find their children annoying, stressful or simply undesirable. For some, there are also psychological problems such as depression, alcohol abuse or personality disorders.

How do these mothers see their children?

Many of the affected mothers do not know what a child can and cannot do at a certain age. So you have unrealistically high expectations and get angryif your child cannot meet them. Some mothers expect a toddler to keep quiet or not to piss. They often wrongly see a negative intention in normal, age-typical behavior - for example: "My child is crying because he wants to annoy me."

How does sexual violence against children come about?

Sexual violence by women is not as unusual as one might think: in international studies, 10 to 30 percent of women report having exercised sexual coercion before. It is estimated that a quarter of women are sexually abused against children.