Theoretical Frameworks for the Intergenerational Transmission of Violence

This inforgraphic shows the three theoretical frameworks (trauma theory, social learning theory, attachment theory) that explain the link between boys' experiences of violence and future perpetration of IPV.


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There are many proposed explanations for the link between boys’ experiences of violence and future perpetration of IPV. Three of these explanations are listed below.

Trauma Theory:

  • Child maltreatment related to onset post-traumatic stress symptoms/disorder (PTSS/D).
  • ADHD
  • PTSS/D increases risk of internalizing (e.g. depression) and externalizing (e.g. aggression) symptoms.
  • Unresolved trauma linked to dysregulation of anger and arousal, elevation of negative emotions, poor emotional regulation skills and interpretation of social interactions as more threatening (all risks factors IPV perpetration).

Social Learning Theory:

  • Attitudes and behaviours learned in family environment.
  • Violence learned, normalized and legitimized.

Attachment Theory:

  • Violence disrupts secure attachment.
  • Relationships come to be viewed as unpredictable/dangerous.
  • Children develop hostile orientation toward others, which turn into violent behaviours in adulthood.

This infographic emerged from the Issue-Based Newsletter 20: Links between the maltreatment of girls & later victimization or use of violence.