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Child Abuse and Violence in Single-Parent Families: Parent Absence and Economic Deprivation

NCJ Number
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry Volume: 59 Issue: 4 Dated: (October 1989) Pages: 492-501
R J Gelles
Date Published
10 pages
A national survey of six thousand households found single parents more likely to use abusive forms of violence toward their children than are parents in dual-caretaker households.
Among single mothers, the high rate of abusive violence appears to be a factor of the poverty which characterizes mother-only families. Children are placed at greater risk of abuse by their single-parent mothers because of poverty and its associated stress. Among single fathers abusive violence appears to be unrelated to income. The number of single fathers is so low, the authors were unable to learn much about them or the factors which lead to their abusive behavior. The documented high risk of abuse and maltreatment in single-parent households demands the development of treatment and policy programs to help support single parents in order to protect their children. 40 references, 4 tables. (Author abstract modified)