February 10, 2006

Who are the men who commit child abuse?

The Tidings

Are priests the major male sex abusers in our society? You might think so, after all the publicity given to the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. But not only is that false, it may also divert our attention from the major male sex abusers in our midst.

Safeguarding children has become a major concern in our society, as we have become aware of how many children are abused (one in five girls and one in ten boys before the age 18). In January 2005, the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation released one of the most comprehensive studies to date of the men who commit child abuse. Data was examined from 18 states involving 192,392 perpetrators of all kinds of neglect and abuse, male and female.

Even though females account for more than half of all child abusers, their abuse is of a distinctly different pattern than that of males. Two-thirds (66 percent) of female abuse is associated with neglect, compared to one-third (36 percent) of males. But 26 percent of the males were linked to child sex abuse, compared to 2 percent of females.

It is important, in safeguarding our children, to know which groups of men put children at most risk of abuse. The study documented that of the 26 percent of males who abuse children sexually, 30 percent are stepfathers, 24 percent are adoptive fathers, and 20 percent are the mothers' boyfriends. None of these were the biological fathers of the children. Together, these groups represent three-fourths of the abusing males in our society.

Posted by kshaw at February 10, 2006 08:12 AM