When Men and Women Abuse Children

Back to the old debate about whether mothers, or fathers, abuse children more. The fathers' groups point to the women, and the feminist groups point to the menz. I have written this up umpteen billion times (see recent dialogue with links on my Fathers and Families Use McNair's Death post).

Here' yet another take, well, not take, but a STUDY sponsored by dear ol' DHHS ACF (do they ever utilize these studies when they create policy?) (emphasis mine):

Distribution of Child Abuse and Neglect by Perpetrator Characteristics

Perpetrator's Relationship to the Child. The majority of all children countable under the Harm Standard (78%) were maltreated by their birth parents, and this held true both for children who were abused (62% were maltreated by birth parents) and for those who were neglected (91% experienced neglect by birth parents).

Birth parents were the most closely related perpetrators for 72 percent of the physically abused children and for 81 percent of the emotionally abused children. The pattern was distinctly different for sexual abuse. Nearly one-half of the sexually abused children were sexually abused by someone other than a parent or parent-substitute, while just over one-fourth were sexually abused by a birth parent, and one-fourth were sexually abused by other than a birth parent or parent- substitute. In addition, a sexually abused child was most likely to sustain a serious injury or impairment when a birth parent was the perpetrator.

Perpetrator's Sex. Children were somewhat more likely to be maltreated by female perpetrators than by males: 65 percent of the maltreated children had been maltreated by a female, whereas 54 percent had been maltreated by a male. Of children who were maltreated by their birth parents, the majority (75%) were maltreated by their mothers and a sizable minority (46%) were maltreated by their fathers (some children were maltreated by both parents). In contrast, children who were maltreated by other parents or parent-substitutes, or by other persons, were more likely to have been maltreated by a male than by a female (80 to 85% were maltreated by males; 14 to 41% by females).

Abused children presented a different pattern in connection with the sex of their perpetrators than did the neglected children. Children were more often neglected by female perpetrators (87% by females versus 43% by males). This finding is congruent with the fact that mothers and mother-substitutes tend to be the primary caretakers and are the primary persons held accountable for any omissions and/or failings in caretaking. In contrast, children were more often abused by males (67% were abused by males versus 40% by females). The prevalence of male perpetrators was strongest in the category of sexual abuse, where 89 percent of the children were abused by a male compared to only 12 percent by a female.

Among all abused children, those abused by their birth parents were about equally likely to have been abused by mothers as by fathers (50% and 58%, respectively), but those abused by other parents, parent-substitutes, or other, nonparental perpetrators were much more likely to be abused by males (80 to 90% by males versus 14 to 15% by females). This general pattern held for emotional abuse, but was slightly different in the area of physical abuse. Children who had been physically abused by their birth parents were more likely to have suffered at the hands of their mothers than their fathers (60% versus 48%), while those who had been physically abused by other parents or parent- substitutes were much more likely to have been abused by their fathers or father-substitutes (90% by their fathers versus 19% by their mothers). For sexual abuse, the child's relationship to the perpetrator made very little difference, since males clearly predominated as perpetrators, whatever their relationship to the child. Moreover, the severity of the injury or impairment that the child experienced as a result of maltreatment did not appear to bear any relationship to the sex of the perpetrator.
Note the language/categories...abuse versus neglect and maltreatment.

Now are you confused more, or is it settled?