Month: May 2009

By Konrad van Staden M.A. Clin.Psych (Pretoria)

We live in a world where parenting is receiving so much focus. It seems to be the topic of many talk shows and magazine articles. We even have entire magazines focused solely on parenting. But most of the issues of parenting are focused on the mother-child relationship with little emphasis on the role of the father. Our society puts so little worth on the role of the father, sometimes seeming blind at the expense our children are suffering for absent fathers. The consequence of absent and non-involved fathers carries weighted consequences.

A child born to a family where the father is absent is more likely to be exposed to neglect, physical illness, emotional neglect and abuse. Fathers who are more involved with their children are conversely more likely to be non-violent towards their children and partner.

A recent analysis of child abuse cases in a nationally representative sample of 42 counties found that children from single-parent families are more likely to be victims of physical and sexual abuse than children who live with both biological parents. Compared to their peers living with both parents, children in single parent homes had:

  • a 77% greater risk of being physically abused;
  • an 87% greater risk of being harmed by physical neglect;
  • a 165% greater risk of experiencing notable physical neglect;
  • a 74% greater risk of suffering from emotional neglect;
  • an 80% greater risk of suffering serious injury as a result of abuse;
  • overall, a 120% greater risk of being endangered by some type of child abuse.

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