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Fathers Who Hurt Their Children

Gender roles are changing. The classical model of a family with a father as the breadwinner who is not emotionally involved in the children's lives is becoming obsolete. As more mothers join the workforce, as more and more families are fragmented through divorce and as traditional roles are more gender neutral, fathers are increasingly providing more than just a paycheck in the home.

But the benefits of incerased paternal participation in childrens lives are not universal. In cases where a father suffers from a personality disorder, increased involvement is not always a good thing.

Child Abuse Statistics

The US deparment of Health and Human Services (DHHS) groups child abuse and child neglect into the same category. In other words - in the eyes of the US government - child neglect is the same thing as child abuse. In 2001 57% of recorded and substantiated child abuse cases were categorized as neglect.

Child Maltreatment Statistics

See Larger Chart

  • 40.5% of all child abuse is committed solely by biological mothers
  • 17.7% of all child abuse is committed solely by biological fathers
  • 19.3% of child abuse is committed by both the mother and the father
  • 6.4% of child abuse is committed by the mother and some other individual
  • 1.0% of child abuse is committed by the father and some other individual
  • 11.9% is committed by someone other than the parents
  • 3.1% is committed by an unknown or missing perpetrator.

Source: US Department of Health and Human Services Child Maltreatment Report 2001

How Common is Child Abuse?

In the US, an estimated 903,000 children (1.2%) of Children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2001.

  • 57.2 percent of victims suffered neglect (including medical neglect),
  • 18.6 percent were physically abused
  • 9.6 percent were sexually abused;
  • 26.6 percent of victims were associated with additional types of maltreatment.

Percentages of victims are similar for males and females (48.0% and 51.5% respectively).

Children in the age group of birth to 3 years account for 27.7% of victims. Victimization percentages decline as age increases.

In the US, more than half of all child abuse victims are White (50.2%); one-quarter (25.0%) are African American; and one-sixth (14.5%) are Hispanic. American Indians and Alaska Natives account for 2% of victims, and Asian-Pacific Islanders accounted for 1.3% of victims.

19% of reported and substantiated child abuse cases result in the child being removed from the home.

Source: US Department of Health and Human Services Child Maltreatment Report 2001

Qualifications for becoming a Father

In the US, there are laws to protect all sorts of individuals from reckless behaviour of others. For example, you must pass an exam before you may:

  • Drive a car,
  • Fly a plane
  • Operate a crane
  • Run a restaurant
  • Educate school children
  • Become a social worker or any kind of therapist
  • Diagnose an ailment or prescribe, dispense or administer any kind of medicine or medical treatment

But there is no qualification for becoming a father other than being male. Nor is there any review of your performance except in the most severe cases of physical violence and neglect.

When it comes to your treatment of strangers you may be prosecuted for:

  • hitting
  • slandering
  • harassing
  • stalking
  • invading their privacy
  • confiscating their property

When it comes to treatment of minors, parents are held almost completely unaccountable. Minor children of abusive parents are completely trapped in their environment - dependent totally on an overwhelmed legal system to take action - after the abuse has been witnessed and reported by a neighbor, teacher, doctor or social worker. Many cases go unreported.

A Sacred Rite

What is equally surprising is that child abuse often extends long into adulthood. Adult children of abusive parents often feel trapped between maintaining an unhealthy relationship with an aging, yet disrespectful, stalking, slandering, harassing parent and being judged by extended family, friends and acquaintances if they choose to cut off all contact with the abusive parent.

“Honour thy father and thy mother:that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”

- Exodus -

“He who wisheth to enter Paradise at the best door must please his father and mother.

- Prophet Muhammad -

We're told again and again that we're not supposed to hate, resent, fear or discard our parents. We're supposed to honor them, love them, cherish them, be loyal to them, take care of them in their old age.

Adult survivors of child abuse ultimately suffer in three distinct ways:

  1. They suffer the abuse itself
  2. They suffer the loss of knowing what should have been - the loss of a supportive parent, of a loving home and a safe refuge.
  3. They suffer the consequences of protecting themselves from that abuse. They are often left feeling guilty, judged, condemned by society, religion, their communities and their families.

Support for Unchosens

There is a section of our Support Forum dedicated to supporting people who find themselves in Unchosen Relationships - relationships with family members, parents, siblings who suffer from personality disorders.

Click here for more recommended Links for those in Unchosen Relationships

Submit feedback on this page here.

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