Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Awarded Research Grant to Prevent Violence and Violence-Related Injury

Fathers and Risk for Physical Child Maltreatment: Prevention Pathways

FOA Number: CE06-004: Grants for Violence-Related Injury Prevention Research
Project Period: 9/1/2006 – 8/31/2009
Application/Grant Number: 1-R49-CE000915-01
Principal Investigator: Guterman, Neil
Columbia University
1210 Amsterdam Avenue; MC 2205
New York, NY 10027


Despite the fact that fathers and father surrogates are disproportionately represented as perpetrators in the most severe and sometimes fatal incidents of physical abuse and neglect, little is known about their specific role in the etiology of physical child abuse and neglect, hindering prevention efforts. The proposed study will conduct a series of interrelated analyses that will isolate the fathering pathways that shape a family's risk for physical child abuse and neglect, drawing data from a national prospective longitudinal population-based birth cohort of families across 20 U. S. cities (N=4,800 at baseline). The design of this study provides unique opportunities as it draws from a nationally representative, rather than local problem-based, sample, and permits the identification of fathering factors prospectively before any maltreatment has occurred, from birth
through three years of age, the period of children's greatest vulnerability to the most severe forms of physical child abuse and neglect. Self-report and in-home observational data on physical child abuse and neglect risk and predictors were collected from both mothers and fathers, and include data on father surrogates, permitting in-depth examination in corroboration and comparison across informants. Four interrelated substudies are proposed that will examine fathers' and father surrogates' roles in a longitudinal fashion across levels of concern (i.e. community, parent subsystem, parent-child interaction), progressing from: 1) multivariate regression analyses that control for maternal and other background factors to identify unique fathering predictors linked to physical child abuse and neglect risk; 2) path analyses that trace the important father related direct and mediating pathways shaping both mothers and fathers risk for physical child abuse and neglect; 3) analyses of community factors as they are related to the parenting subsystem and shape individual level fathering factors related to physical child abuse and neglect risk; and 4) :multivariate regression analyses that include non-biological father-figures as well as fathers and use longitudinal data to examine pathways to risk. Given differing etiological processes, father-related factors will be examined differentially in their capacity to predict young children's risk for exposure to physical child abuse as contrasted with physical child neglect. Findings from this study will provide scientific information that identifies specific modifiable father related pathways linked with maltreatment risk promoting the development of preventive interventions that alter parent-child interactions away from physical child abuse and neglect risk.