Aside

More Statistics on Child Abuse, Or, Why Single Moms Should Probably Stay That Way

(I know, I know–another inflammatory title. But if you’re not feeling a bit inflamed by the end of this post, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.)

Wading through statistics makes me cranky. My inner journalist, latent as she may be, pitches a fit when she hears people making making vague allusions to “research,” or when numbers are spun to crown “heroes” and hang “villains.” Prepping for this message about how cohabitation hurts women and children has practically sent my Lois Lane gene through the roof. Few people are neutral when it comes to child abuse and their living arrangements (happily so), and I am not comfortable using a handful of strategically-chosen, sloppily-cited statistics from organizations that I know have an agenda–even if I happen to agree with their agenda.

So I have been on a little bit of a vendetta to “get the scoop” on how children are impacted by their living situation. And it hasn’t been easy. Privacy laws complicate matters enormously, and many numbers have to be cobbled together from a variety of sources. After the statistic I ran across yesterday about mothers being the most likely physical abuser of their young children, I was downright infuriated. It was a hardcore “Yes, but” sort of statistic. I had to get to the bottom of it.

Finally, FINALLY, I tracked down a page that provided good statistical information, culled from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. Now, this page is still tricky to decipher–if you don’t read it closely, you can REALLY get the wrong idea. But what I loved about it is that it provides statistics based on substantiated or indicted child maltreatment cases. Because of that the numbers are going to skew low–a lot of abuse is never reported–but it does show the breakdown of who is being charged with what types of child abuse in the USA.

It is also crucial to understand that these numbers are based on TOTAL CASES, so while it can tell you, say, that more children are abused by their biological mother then are abused by a mother’s unrelated boyfriend (because most children live with their mothers, while relatively few live with a mother’s unrelated boyfriend), you’d have to whip out a calculator to figure out how likely a child living with his or her biological mother and her unrelated boyfriend is to be abused by said boyfriend. (Did that make any sense at all?) This also accounts for why mothers are statistically most likely to be involved child maltreatment.

Here’s the basic breakdown:

-Of all the perpetrators of child maltreatment, 54% were female, and 46% were male.

Abuse by women:

-Among female perpetrators, 86% were the child’s biological mother, 10% were non-parents, and 4% were in some sort of parental role (step-mom, dad’s girlfriend, etc.)

-Among female perpetrators, 66% had been charged with neglect only, 18% had been charged with physical abuse only, 4% had been charged with emotional abuse only, 2% had been charged with sexual abuse only, and 11% had been charged with some combination of the above.

Abuse by men:

-Among male perpetrators, 51% were biological fathers, and 26% were non-parents (12% male relatives, 13% non-relatives, and 1% some ambiguous combination of both). 10% were mother’s boyfriends, 8% were stepfathers, 5% were combination fathers, and 1% were adoptive fathers.

-Among male perpetrators, 36% had been charged with neglect only, 26% had been charged with sexual abuse only, 22% had been charged with physical abuse only, 5% had been charged with emotional abuse only, and 11% had been charged with some combination of the above.

Type of abuse by relationship

Here is where I am going to pick on the men. Because I am speaking specifically about cohabitation this week, and because only about 2% of child abuse cases involve “evil stepmother” sorts, the ladies are off the hook (for now). Step-fathers and adoptive fathers, on the other hand, are not–I couldn’t leave them out in good conscience, after what I read. I am not including statistics about men who are not in parental roles.

PLEASE KEEP IN MIND, again, that these numbers are based on PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH CHILD ABUSE. So when I say, for instance, that 26% of biological fathers who are perpetrators have been charged with physical abuse, it DOES NOT mean that 26% of men physically abuse their biological children. It means that out of all reported child abuse cases that have been substantiated and/or indicted involving biological fathers, 26% of them were for physical abuse.

Biological fathers who were perpetrators: 50% were charged with neglect only, 26% were charged with physical abuse only, 7% were charged with emotional abuse only, 7% were charged with sexual abuse only, and 11% were charged with some combination of the above.

Mother’s boyfriends who were perpetrators: 31% were charged with neglect only. 30% were charged with physical abuse only. 20% were charged with sexual abuse only. 6% were charged with emotional abuse only. And 13% were charged with some combination of the above.

Stepfathers who were perpetrators: 34% were charged with physical abuse only. 30% were charged with sexual abuse only. 20% were charged with neglect only. 4% were charged with emotional abuse only. And 12% were charged with some combination of the above.

Combination fathers who were perpetrators: 56% were charged with neglect only, 8% were charged with physical abuse only, 7% were charged with sexual abuse only, 3% were charged with emotional abuse only, and 25% were charged with some combination of the above.

Adoptive fathers who were perpetrators: 33% were charged with physical abuse only, 24% were charged with sexual abuse only, 23% were charged with neglect only, 3% were charged with emotional abuse only, and 17% were charged with some combination of the above.

There’s a lot of information to chew on here, but this has already been a stinkin’ long blog post (if you could call it that at all–it’s more like a massive disclaimer and explanation of the statistics I will be using in my message this Sunday), so I’ll end it here. Chew away, and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.



 

23 Responses to More Statistics on Child Abuse, Or, Why Single Moms Should Probably Stay That Way

  1. Tim May 1, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    Welcome to my courtroom.

    Tim

  2. Mike October 10, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

    The most relevant statistics are probably these:
    introducing a boyfriend into a single mother’s home can increase a child’s risk of abuse or death.

    A 2011 federal study of child abuse found that the riskiest home situation for children was living with one parent and an unmarried partner: 57.2 per 1,000 were maltreated. That’s more than eight times the risk than if they were living with both biological parents (6.8 per 1,000) and more than double the risk of living in a single-parent household (28.4 per 1,000).

    Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/04/04/2542444/moms-boyfriend-may-be-hazardous.html#storylink=cpy

  3. RWA October 27, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    Interesting. I crunched your numbers and found that 55% of the abuse was due to the biological mother or her poor choice in boyfriend/step father. Only 26% of the abuse was due to the biological father or his poor mate choice.

    • Evie August 9, 2014 at 9:35 am #

      So when a man abuses a child, you blame a woman?

      • Joe November 5, 2016 at 3:22 am #

        No… not what was said at all. It’s still the duchebag’s fault

      • B D March 17, 2017 at 10:55 pm #

        A single MOTHER is in charge of making sure her child is not at risk so if she makes a bad choice, she has put her child at risk

        • Crystal Achey April 3, 2017 at 9:38 am #

          Yes, people make bad choices in partners… but, often we don’t think they would do the horrible things they end up doing… and we don’t realize how hard it is to protect our children from them, legally.

        • MB October 16, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

          @ BD…I agree with you. There are single fathers who allow their wives to kill/abuse stepchildren (look up the case of AJ Schwarz) but in general, it tends to be an issue where single moms put their kids at risk.
          As a woman, I’ve noticed that a lot of single moms are defensive about this.
          They ask “why are women being blamed?”

          Well, because there are more single moms than single dads.
          Therefore a single mother has a responsibility to protect her kid(s) from harm.
          Part of this (a VERY important part) is being mindful about the company one keeps.
          I’m tired of hearing stories about children being raped/abused/killed by Mom’s boyfriend or husband.
          It can’t happen if the woman is more careful about who she brings into her child’s life.

        • Jessica October 31, 2017 at 1:02 pm #

          Where is the father? Why is it only the mother’s job to make sure her child is not at risk? A child has two parents, not one. If you say it is the mother’s job to do something, it is the father’s job as well. If you say well why didn’t she, then you say well why didn’t he? People need to stop putting everything on mothers and nothing on fathers.

    • Deb March 28, 2017 at 10:31 pm #

      My grand daughter who is just 4 was molested by her mom boy friend. And she(mom) only knew him 2 weeks b4 she moved the kids in to his house. They liked him in the beginning..that didn’t last. Should have been a red flag! My grand daughter doesn’t even want to be around her mom now…

      People lime that don’t learn! She is still using the boyfriends last name! And the abuse was confirmed! Who does that?

      • MB October 16, 2017 at 3:31 pm #

        @Deb…I’m so sorry. My heart goes out to you. I hope your granddaughter is living in a better, safer place now.
        Sometimes people are selfish and they make decisions that wind up hurting children.
        It sounds like the child’s mother has chosen this man over her daughter. Very sad.

  4. Suret1 July 17, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

    My daughter is in this situation now. 18yr old SM .. Boyfriend has a ltemper”…. Yelled at the baby at 3mos old because he wouldn’t drink his bottle. Who knows what else but I am always looking for signs. I know he treats her badly and somehow she thinks she deserves it but I don’t know go to get it through her head that it is her responsibility to keep that baby safe. I welcome any bmk

    • Suret1 July 17, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

      Sorry… Typo… I welcome any advice

    • B D March 17, 2017 at 11:00 pm #

      If he has a temper over a small thing such as a baby not drinking a bottle,this is not a good sign. That is abuse. It is not the baby’s fault that the bottle may not be wanted- besides, at 3 mos, it would be formula which is proven to NOT be good for babies. Why is a 3 month old baby drinking formula, when the baby should be being breastfed (proven to be healthier for baby.) The Mother is 18 and the father is not around and yet, already, she has a new boyfriend. Sounds like the mother already has made bad choices which means she is putting her child at risk

      • Crystal Achey April 3, 2017 at 9:32 am #

        Yes, it’s better to breastfeed… however, let’s back off a bit on that bottle feeding judgement shall we? I hope you are not one of those right to lifers who then judges every little thing that is not ideal in a child’s upbringing… especially when a child is born to a virtual child with no support or substantial care from the biological father.

      • HC September 15, 2017 at 4:16 pm #

        Because women who have to go back to work never pump and give breastmilk in a bottle right? Also, some children reject breastmilk and have to be given formula…don’t spout off when you have no clue about someone’s situation and just make assumptions.

  5. Sil May 15, 2017 at 5:33 am #

    One category of people is completely left off the hook- the absentee parent. All the blame is shifted on the parent with whom the children are and/or his/her partner. If statistics show that children being raised in broken homes are much more likely to suffer abuse, then the parent responsible for ‘breaking’ it should be held responsible as well. You bring a child into this world, you have an obligation to make sure they are well every single day and night. Besides, being raised in a broken home is traumatic to the child by itself so the parental culprit should be held to account. Raising a child is not a job for one person, not even for two. In any child abuse cases involving a parent and/or their partners, where the other parent is willingly absent, the absentee parent should be charged with neglecting the child. What worse neglect is there than abandoning a child?

    • Pogo May 16, 2017 at 6:25 pm #

      It’s a rare case where only one partner is responsible for the relationship breakdown, as for the “absent” parent the majority of the time the “absent” parent has no choice in the matter, the majority of the time custody is awarded to only one parent.

  6. Steve October 13, 2017 at 2:35 am #

    Your maths doesn’t even add up, 100% is the be all and end all. !00% is a whole number.
    So if Abuse by women is 86% were the child’s biological mother how can Abused by men who were the child’s biological father be 51%?
    I may be crap at maths but that number does not equal 100% its 137%

    • Truth October 17, 2017 at 1:36 am #

      the maths are fine. What is being said is out of the Female abusers and who she brings into the childs live even if its the father, boyfriend, grandma, friend, ect. The abuse is 86 percent the actual MOM of the kids. Period.

      Then it gives separate stats for Mans abuse, The father is 51 percent our of his own 100 percent of who he brings into his childs live or allows ect ect.

      • Truth October 17, 2017 at 1:39 am #

        better yet.. I made a mistake its just saying Mothers or Fathers and who they bring into their childs lives. Not Mom and Dad together. Its after separation. Individual stats for both parents.

  7. MB October 16, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

    I had this conversation with my own mother the other day. I am an adult now, but I still remember what it was like growing up with an abusive stepfather.
    We were talking about some people we know…the child’s father died of cancer last year, and my mom said that maybe his girlfriend needs to find a new man.

    I strongly disagreed with that. I’m not saying that single moms don’t deserve to find love and happiness.
    If they happen to meet a good guy who is kind to them and their children, wonderful. But there are FAR too many cases where people don’t consider the needs of their kids before bringing new partners into the picture.
    And then you’ll hear all of these stories about how a child was mistreated or murdered by Mom or Dad’s boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife.

    These things can be avoided by making smarter choices instead of jumping into relationships without taking time to see how the person interacts with your kids. I’ve told a few single moms before…not everyone will love your kids the way you do. It’s so important to raise them in a healthy environment and sometimes that means putting their needs first. Not bringing anyone into their lives who will hurt them, just so you can say you have a man or woman in your life.
    Maybe I’m biased because of my own painful experiences growing up, but I think it is generally a very bad idea to date as a single parent unless the person is kind to your kid(s). With my stepfather there were a LOT of red flags but my mom was so desperate to have a man that she ignored the abuse.

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