U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Fathers, Physical Child Abuse, and Neglect: Advancing the Knowledge Base

NCJ Number
Child Maltreatment Volume: 14 Issue: 3 Dated: August 2009 Pages: 227-231
Shawna J. Lee; Jennifer L. Bellamy; Neil B. Guterman
Date Published
August 2009
5 pages
This article - which introduces this special issue on new research that examines fathering factors that may shape both maternal and paternal risk of engaging in physical child abuse or neglect (PCAN) - highlights key questions in the research literature and presents the authors' perspective on how the articles in the issue address some of these gaps.
The article notes that comprehensively capturing the nature of father involvement in PCAN is difficult, given the variety of roles that a man or men play in various family contexts. Studies to date suggest that progress in this area of research requires more careful conceptualization and measurement of factors such as the quality of paternal involvement, the relationship status of the father and mother, and the biological relatedness of the father and child. Fathering maltreatment pathways that require research involve fathers' demographic characteristics, fathers' substance abuse, and mother and father interactions. Other issues that require more research are prevention and intervention services for fathers. The authors view the articles in this special issue as representing advances in the conceptualization of father involvement in PCAN. The articles include measures that move beyond simple categorization of father presence and absence as well as the inclusion of nonresidential and nonbiological fathers; however, the authors' assessment of the presented research is that more work is needed to advance the methodology of research in this area, including the quantification of fathers' formal and informal contributions to families. There are also a number of other important matters that have not been directly examined in this issue. They include how fathers' culture, race, and ethnicity may relate to PCAN; the positive and protective factors that fathers bring to children's welfare; fathers' role in child neglect; and the need for more prevention and intervention studies that target fathers. 34 references