Facing children suffering from physical abuse: The decision-making process of non-abusing caregivers

Chia Jung Chen, Yi Wen Chen, Hsin Yi Chang, Jui Ying Feng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Physical abuse is the most common type of child maltreatment reported in Taiwan. The action of non-abusing caregivers is key to ending this maltreatment and to preventing future victimization in the home. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the decision-making process used by non-abusing caregivers to take action after finding that children under their care were being physically abused at home. Methods: A qualitative descriptive approach was adopted and purposive, snowball sampling was used to recruit 11 non-abusing caregivers of children less than 18 years of age who were experiencing physical abuse at home. Data were collected using semi-structured, in-depth interviews. Data analysis was performed using a constant comparison method that was based on grounded theory principles and techniques. Results: The participants adopted a process that shifted over time from passive observation to active participation in dealing with children under their care being physically abused at home. The three main categories and five subcategories in this process are (1) inaction (shirking parental responsibility and rationalizing spouse’s use of corporal punishment); (2) obscure action (family harmony first; strategic solutions); and (3) action (bottom line for asking for help). In this study, the decision-making process was influenced by personal, family, and sociocultural factors. Conclusions / Implications for Practice: The decision of the non-abusing caregivers in this study whether or not to take action was influenced by situational factors, which led to various consequences for their children. Non-abusing caregivers should be provided with coping strategies and resources to help them make decisions that protect the best interests of the physically abused child.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-48
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nursing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nursing(all)


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