Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Abusive Parenting Spans Generation in Monkeys

Rhesus monkeys are known for their sometimes violent behavior toward their offspring. It is common to see a rhesus monkey mother regularly hit, kick, bite, and brutalize their babies. Now, a new study reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that females subjected to abusive behavior as infants, often grow up to be abusive parents themselves.

Primatologist Dario Maestripieri of the University of Chicago states that being abused as an infant outweighs any genetic factor that might be responsible for abusive parenting. His argument is based on two main observations. First, females born to abusive mothers, who are raised by non-abusive adoptive mothers, uniformly become nurturing parents. Second, rhesus mothers frequently mistreat their offspring after being raised by abusive (either biological or adoptive) mothers.

Maestripieri’s study consisted of four groups of rhesus monkeys, living in an outdoor research facility in Georgia. The first group consisted of six infants born to abusive mothers, who were given to unrelated non-abusive mothers as newborns. The second group was eight infants born to non-abusive mothers, and adopted by abusive mothers. The third group was eight infants born to abusive mothers raised by them. The fourth group was nine infants born to non-abusive mothers and raised by them.

The monkeys were tracked into adulthood and observed for at least three months after they gave birth. Nine of the sixteen females raised by abusive mothers (four of which were born to non-abusive mothers) abused their own babies. Also, none of the fifteen females raised by non-abusive mothers became abusive themselves.

It is already know that in people; roughly 30 percent of abused children become abusive parents. These results prove to be a good non-human model for the study of child abuse. This study may open the doors for further insight into why child abuse occurs in humans, and may prove to be useful in preventative strategies.

Posted by DJF (4)

8 Comments:

At 11:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like how you showed the relationship between rhesus monkey raised by their abusive parent and adoptive parent.Also how you related that to the human life. I feel that it is so true about chidren having to grow up and becoming abusive parents to their own children due to the mistreatment they had to endure growing up.

commented by NCA

 
At 11:35 PM, Blogger NCA said...

I like how you showed the relationship between rhesus monkey raised by their abusive parent and adoptive parent.Also how you related that to the human life. I feel that it is so true about chidren having to grow up and becoming abusive parents to their own children due to the mistreatment they had to endure growing up.

commented by NCA

 
At 11:36 PM, Blogger NCA said...

I like how you showed the relationship between rhesus monkey raised by their abusive parent and adoptive parent.Also how you related that to the human life. I feel that it is so true about chidren having to grow up and becoming abusive parents to their own children due to the mistreatment they had to endure growing up.

commented by NCA

 
At 11:38 PM, Blogger NCA said...

I like how you showed the relationship between rhesus monkey raised by their abusive parent and adoptive parent.Also how you related that to the human life. I feel that it is so true about chidren having to grow up and becoming abusive parents to their own children due to the mistreatment they had to endure growing up.

commented by NCA

 
At 2:30 PM, Blogger PWH said...

I wouldn't think that other animals besides humans could take an action that has nothing to do with survival in any sort of way and replicate it. I think this is a good example of what we've discussed in class recently about the differences between environmentally cued behaviors and behaviors that are genetically influenced. I'm glad to know that this behavior has nothing to do with genes, it's just bad parenting.

Posted by DarkStarSpace

I deleted the previous comment because i forgot to add my name

 
At 10:21 PM, Blogger PWH said...

I found this article to be very interesting. I was not aware that other mammals besides human actually abuse their young. The only thing that was a little confusing was the actual summary of the experiment and results. However, it was a great post and how you related it to humans was good.

posted by JMIN(4)

 
At 11:18 PM, Blogger PWH said...

Usually we look at the behavior of other animals in a survival-based manner. This article though, illustrates a completely social behavior that has no direct bearing on survival. It being such an interesting topic, I would expect for the blog posting to better hold my attention. I think that while the subject matter is phenomenal, the writing feels a bit choppy and is sometimes difficult to follow. Also, the end of the post mentioned that the experiment could help humans further understand why child abuse occurs but offers no reasoning or elaboration as to why or how that is a possibility. I would be very interested to better understand that possible aspect of the experiment.
Rachel Baritz (4)

 
At 3:39 PM, Blogger PWH said...

I chose this article because I found it to be very interesting as well. In the experiment, infant offspring of abusive mothers were raised by nurturing mothers, and offspring of nurturing mothers were raised by abusive ones. As a control, some offspring of abusive mothers were left with their abusive mothers, and some offspring of nurturing mothers were left with their nurturing mothers. These monkeys made up the four groups of the study.

The results showed that the maternal behavior these offspring grew to express with their own children was definitely caused by their environments, and not by genetics. 9 of the 16 females raised by abusive mothers abused their own children as adults. These 9 monkeys included 4 that were born to nurturing mothers. Also, none of the 15 monkeys raised by nurturing mother abused their own children.

This shown that child abuse is a learned behavior and not something genetically instilled in us. This is important in humans because if we know the reason why child abuse occurs, we have a better chance to stop it or prevent it.

Revised by DJF

 

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