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Individual Characteristics of Parents and Caregivers
Research has not proven that particular characteristics or personality traits lead caregivers to maltreat their children. However, there are certain characteristics of parents or caregivers that do place children at greater risk of abuse or neglect. Use the following resources to learn more about some of these traits and characteristics, such as mental health, response to stress, and trauma history.
Caregiver Physical Health and Protective Factors Against Child Abuse and Neglect (PDF - 473 KB)
Examines relationships among caregiver physical health, stress, and depression at two time points in a national sample of caregivers receiving parenting-related services.
The Effects of Sexual Abuse as a Child on the Risk of Mothers Physically Abusing Their Children: A Path Analysis Using Systems Theory
Child Abuse and Neglect: The International Journal, 30(11), 2006
Assesses the potential path from sexual abuse as a child to the risk of physical abuse as a mother, concluding that the ability of the mother to resolve the childhood trauma has the greatest impact on the risk of physical abuse.
Fathers' Risk Factors and Their Implications for Healthy Relationships and Father Involvement (PDF - 25 KB)
Center for Research on Child Wellbeing (2007)
Examines how a man's relationship with his own parents affects his risk behaviors for child maltreatment as a father.
A Longitudinal Study of Maternal Depression and Child Maltreatment in a National Sample of Families Investigated by Child Protective Services
Conron, Beardslee, Koenen, Buka, & Gortmaker
Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 163(10), 2009
Assesses the effects of mothers' struggles with depression on the potential for child abuse or neglect.
Parents' Pasts and Families' Futures: Using Family Assessments to Inform Perspectives on Reasonable Efforts and Reunification (PDF - 389 KB)
Smithgall, DeCoursey, Yang, & Haseltine (2012)
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
Uses family assessments conducted by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to explore parents' childhood experiences and their current involvement with the child welfare system.
Protectors or Perpetrators?: Fathers, Mothers, and Child Abuse and Neglect
Wilcox & Dew
Center for Marriage and Families (2008)
Explores fathers' roles in perpetration and protecting children from child abuse and neglect.
Risk Factors for Paternal Child Abuse
Lee, Guterman, & Lee
Child Abuse and Neglect: The International Journal, 32(9), 2008
Examines risk factors related to fathers committing child abuse; factors include race, ethnicity, and marital status.
Sexual Abuse History Among Adult Sex Offenders and Non-Sex Offenders: A Meta-Analysis
Jespersen, Lalumière, & Seto
Child Abuse and Neglect: The International Journal, 33(3), 2009
Provides a description of the sexually abused-sexual abuser hypothesis and uses multiple studies to determine if it is supported. Results show that sexual abuse is a risk factor for child maltreatment, specifically sexual abuse.
Who Are These Parents Involved in Child Neglect? A Differential Analysis by Parent Gender and Family Structure
Dufour, Lavergne, Larrivee, & Trocme
Children and Youth Services Review, 30(2), 2008
Compares mothers' and fathers' risk factors for child neglect. Findings include information on the contributing factors of gender, family structure, and child maltreatment.