Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 123–129 | Cite as

Predictors of Child Abuse Potential Among Military Parents: Comparing Mothers and Fathers

  • Cindy M. Schaeffer
  • Pamela C. Alexander
  • Kimberly Bethke
  • Lisa S. Kretz


The present study examines the predictors of child abuse potential for at-risk fathers and mothers serving as active duty Army members and their spouses. Although fathers are perpetrators of child physical abuse and neglect in a substantial portion of reported cases, what is known about factors associated with child maltreatment comes almost exclusively from studies of perpetrating mothers. Thus, the inclusion of a large sample of fathers in the present study makes a significant contribution to the extant literature. Participants were 175 fathers (93% active-duty) and 590 mothers (16% active duty) of young children enrolled in an Army-sponsored home visitation program. Regression analyses indicated that there were both common and unique predictors of child abuse potential for mothers and fathers. Common predictors included depression, parental distress, and family conflict. Low family expressiveness was predictive only for fathers, whereas marital dissatisfaction, low social support, and low family cohesion were predictive only for mothers. Possible reasons for these gender differences and the implications of these results for child maltreatment interventions are discussed.


child maltreatment prevention gender differences parenting military families 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cindy M. Schaeffer
    • 1
    • 3
  • Pamela C. Alexander
    • 2
  • Kimberly Bethke
    • 1
  • Lisa S. Kretz
    • 1
  1. 1.J & E Associates, Inc.Silver Spring
  2. 2.University of Maryland College ParkCollege Park
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MarylandBaltimore

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