Child Maltreatment, Maltreatment, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Abuse, Gender




Mary Bower Russa


More than 2 million investigations of suspected maltreatment were opened by child protective services (CPS) in 2018 (Child Trend, 2019), and in 91.7% of cases, parents of the children or stepchild in question were the primary offenders (Child Trend, 2019). Child maltreatment is broken down into two categories: abuse and neglect. Abuse can be further broken down into child physical abuse (CPA), child sexual abuse (CSA), and child emotional abuse (CEA: Park, 2020; Behl, Conyngham, & May, 2003). In considering risk for perpetration of abuse, some notable gender differences have been identified in past research. Females are more likely to be perpetrators of CPA than males, and males as more likely to perpetrate CSA (Behl et al., 2003). Recent research verifies that males are overwhelming more likely to perpetrate CSA, with girls as the primary victims (Behl et al., 2003, Mileva, Goshev, & Alexandrov, 2020; Park, 2020). Past research also places an emphasis on stepfathers as perpetrators of CSA, yet this may be an overrepresentation due to mis-education regarding CSA amongst children (Gerke, Rassenhofer, Witt, Sachser, & Fegert, 2019; Mileva, et al., 2020). Females perpetrate CPA at higher rates but are less likely to severely injure the child than males. Male perpetrators of CPA are generally more violent than female perpetrators. In general, fathers are more likely to favor authoritarian punishment and to use corporal punishment. Fathers’ high rates of corporal punishment may be a result of lack of experience in resolving child conflict due to lower levels of parental involvement.

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