Thirty-seven identified abusive mothers were matched on demographic and socioeconomic parameters with a known nonabusive comparison sample in order to examine the role of parenting stress and maternal social support. The mothers were assessed using a personal (demographic) questionnaire, the Parenting Stress Index (PSI), and the Maternal Support Index (MSSI). Demographic data showed that the two groups were comparable on all variables except abusive mothers had significantly more children (p = .01). Abusive mothers showed significantly more stress on total PSI scores (p = .005), as well as in all three of the subsets. Child Domain (p = .007) Parent Domain (p = .02), and Life Stress (p = .016). Abusive mothers scored lower in all seven items on the MSSI. The difference was significant on the MSSI as a whole (p = .007) and on four subsets: number of people to count on in time of need (p = .02), perceived neighborhood support (p = .04), satisfaction with spousal relationship (p = .01), and degree of community involvement (p = .03). The greatest percentage (74.32%) of correct predictions of child abuse was achieved by combining the number of children, the Life Stress Scale and the MSSI. Implications for future research are discussed.
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