Mothers are more likely to abuse children than fathers. Fact?

I recently had a bit of a heated debate with a anonymous tweeter ‘Preserved by Faith’ who was very sure that 71% of children killed by a family member are killed by their mother. She relied upon statistics provided by Mark Rosenthal’s ‘Breaking the Science’

These appear to be credible and are taken from the US Department of Health and Human Services.


Data from U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services “Child Maltreatment” reports, 2001-2006*
Victims by Parental Status of Perpetrators
Child abuse and neglect Child fatalities
2001-2006 2001-2006
Mother Only 1,452,099 1,704
Mother and Other 222,836 565
Mother total (alone or with someone other than the father) 1,674,935 2269
Father Only 661,129 859
Father and Other 37,836 77
Father total (alone or with someone other than the mother) 698,965 936
Both total (Involving one parent acting alone or in concert with someone not the child’s other parent) 2,373,900 3,205
Percent of cases involving one parent acting either alone or in concert with someone other than the child’s other parent
Mother Involved But Not Father 70.6% 70.8%
Father Involved But Not Mother 29.4% 29.2%

What I don’t know because the table doesn’t make it clear, is how many of these mothers and fathers were living together at the time the child died. Is part of the reason that more children are killed by mothers because more women than men are primary carers of children? The vast majority of lone parents are mothers. In the UK in 2014 for example 91% of lone parents were women.

But probably a more interesting percentage that can be gleaned from these figures is that children killed by parents acting alone. I haven’t analysed those figures when a parent ‘acted’ with another because no explanation is given of what that means or what degree of culpability was afforded the parent as opposed to the ‘other’.

1,704 were killed by a mother acting alone. That represents only 0.12% of the1,452,099 children who are neglected by their mother alone.  For fathers, who by themselves neglected 661,129 children, they killed 0.13% (859). So in terms of parents acting alone, fathers kill MORE children than mothers.

She then moved on to assert that mothers were more likely to abuse children than father’s full stop, referring to an Australian article ‘Why aren’t we talking about abusive mums?‘. Again I wonder to what extent this is reflection of the fact that women are overwhelmingly more likely to be lone carers, and considerably more likely to be poor.

Half of all absent fathers in the UK pay nothing towards their children. Women are also more likely than men to be victims of violence and abuse from intimate partners.

Lets look at this article. It has a link to its claim that ‘children are far more likely to suffer abuse or neglect at the hands of mothers – but that link is simply to another article offering the experiences of ‘Sarah’ who was sexually abused by her mother and I couldn’t find any reference to statistics there.

It does however quote this study

The Child Family Community Australia reports, “A British retrospective prevalence study of 2669 young adults aged 18-24 (May-Chahal & Cawson, 2005) found that mothers were more likely than fathers to be responsible for physical abuse 49 per cent of incidents compared to 40 per cent).”

So no 70/30 split in terms of physical abuse.

It then says this, but provides no link to any published statistics in support

DHHS data in the UK shows that of children abused by one parent between 2001 and 2006, 70.6 per cent were abused by their mothers, 29.4 per cent were abused by their fathers.

I wonder if that is actually a reference to the statistic quoted by Mark Rosenthal given the reference to ‘DHHS’ which isn’t a UK body. With such precise statistics quoted, the lack of any link is odd.

‘Preserved by Faith’ also referred to this data from the American Society for the Positive Care of Children. But this doesn’t seem to break down the figures to show what proportion of the abusers were mothers and what proportion fathers or step fathers. However they are a shocking light shone on just how dangerous parents are for children.


  • 4 million child maltreatment referral reports received.1
  • Child abuse reports involved 7.2 million children.1
  • 3.4 million children received prevention & post-response services.1
  • 207,000 children received foster care services.1
  • 75.3% of victims are neglected.1
  • 17.2% of victims are physically abused.1
  • 8.4% of victims are sexually abused.1
  • 6.9% of victims are psychologically maltreated.1
  • Highest rate of child abuse in children under one (24.2% per 1,000).1
  • Over one-quarter (27.%) of victims are younger than 3 years.1
  • Annual estimate: 1,670 to 1740 children died from abuse and neglect.1,3
  • Almost five children die every day from child abuse.1,2
  • 80% of child fatalities involve at least one parent.1
  • 74.8% of child fatalities are under the age of 3.1
  • 72.9% of the child abuse victims die from neglect.1
  • 43.9% of the child abuse victims die from physical abuse.1
  • 49.4% of children who die from child abuse are under one year.1
  • Almost 60,000 children are sexually abused.1
  • More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator.6
  • Estimated that between 50-60% of maltreatment fatalities are not recorded on death certificates.5
  • Child abuse crosses all socioeconomic and educational levels, religions, ethnic and cultural groups.1


But what is the point of all of this?

I don’t think the statistics show that mothers are more evil and more prone to abuse children than fathers. I think the statistics show that mothers are more likely to be in a situation where they will be poor and under stress. I really don’t know what ‘Preserved by Faith’ was trying to argue. She seemed to have a pretty clear animus against her step children’s mother but it wasn’t clear if she was trying to argue that the mother was therefore more likely to murder her children so custody should be given to their dad, now married to ‘Preserved by Faith’.

I could see that ‘Preserved by Faith’ was pretty angry and upset at what she perceived to be the situation. And yes, if its true what she set out, that’s a hard road to travel.

But does the path get any easier by relying on partial statistics to make some general point that as mothers are 70% of child killers, then HER step children should spend 50% of their time with their dad?

The tragedy of these cases is that the adults involved often cannot look beyond their own anger and they fall back on tired generalisations about ‘men’ versus ‘women’. If their rage is palpable to me – a complete stranger they ‘meet’ on the internet, I wonder what is is like for the children in their lives who presumably have a much more immediate and proximate exposure to such negative emotions. Their mother and father are not statistics for them.

Further Reading

Who Kills Children? Re-examining the evidence is a paper from the Bristish Journal of Social Work in 2013. The full article is available only on subscription but the abstract is interesting. It doesn’t support my speculation that poverty is linked to greater rates of child death.


Violent children’s deaths have become a surrogate indicator of effective child protection but can those who kill children be better identified? A decade-long study of child homicide assailants (population of 2.5 million) is re-examined in the context of nineteen Western nations’ child mortality rates and child-abuse-related deaths, correlated with four international measures of relative poverty, focusing on income inequality. Child mortality rates of the nineteen countries were ranked and correlated with levels of poverty. Child mortality and poverty strongly correlated but, unexpectedly, child-abuse-related deaths did not. Child homicide assailants are extremely rare, but three distinct within-family assailant categories can be identified: mentally ill parents, mothers with a child on the Child Protection Register and men with previous convictions for violence. Mentally ill parents were the most frequent assailants, but violent men killed over five times the rate of mentally ill parents. The juxtaposed results indicate that the assailants’ problems are essentially psycho-criminological, especially violence, rather than socio-economic, although poverty worsens most situations. Despite the dangers of ‘false positives’, children’s services need to give greater weighting to the child protection–psychiatric–violence interface to assist front line staff in improving risk assessment and contribute to reducing the impact that parental mental illness can have on the child.
Filicide: Mental Illness in Those who Kill Their Children 
2013 paper which concluded:
6144 people were convicted of homicide, 297 were filicides, and 45 cases were filicide-suicides. 195 (66%) perpetrators were fathers. Mothers were more likely than fathers to have a history of mental disorder (66% v 27%) and symptoms at the time of the offence (53% v 23%), most often affective disorder. 17% of mothers had schizophrenia or other delusional disorders. Overall 8% had schizophrenia. 37% were mentally ill at the time of the offence. 20% had previously been in contact with mental health services, 12% within a year of the offence.

88 thoughts on “Mothers are more likely to abuse children than fathers. Fact?

  1. Angelo Granda

    It is an unpleasant but it is a fact that children are subjected to much trauma and emotional disturbance when taken from family by LA’s and that by many reports of findings following Public and Police enquiries they are also stand much more chance of suffering abuse of all kinds and emotional neglect in care than with either Mum or Dad.
    Life for children in care is degrading and abysmal according to many care leavers also.

    1. Jennifer

      No, I looked at the media. Who they are labeling as mom are paternal grandmas, step-mother’s because the dads got full custody, and caregivers. It’s the males united network spreading this propaganda and it makes me very angry. Even in the media, I saw a then local woman labeled as a mom and when I read the articles, it’s step-mom or girlfriend because the real moms are ran off for being victims in the area. Then the kids end up in Juvenile because they are falsely or in reality accused of committing crimes after street gangs get the dad full custody. So it’s lies based on a men for child abuse and domestic violence-network. We’ve gone back to Victorian times because of women desperate to have a man support them.

      1. Jennifer

        I agree with the above also. They face more abuse at schools and daycare, then blame the parents and then abuse in foster care too. But they do this to cover their butts and stay out of lawsuites the same way in NV

      2. Nick

        Learn how to speak English because you can’t form a full sentence without sounding like the typical hypocritical feminist. [the next time I spot a rude or abusive comment from you Nick, you are banned full stop. Grow up and talk with some courtesy and people may wish to engage with you]

  2. Luke Pickell

    The issue of abuse and neglect becomes muddled when the debate focuses on gender. Abuse can occur from a mother or father. The core issue nobody seems to address is the mental wellness of either parent. A high conflict person with a personality disorder is the likely culprit of abuse. Even worse is their ability to present in a charming and likeable way to outsiders while being monsters in private

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I agree. a lot of the problems I see are caused by people with clashing personalities. I am not so sure I would go so far as to say most of them have a ‘personality disorder’ – but their ability to react appropriately and proportionately is often compromised by high levels of anxiety which are made worse by relationships breaking down and an increase in conflict generally.

    2. monscarecoeur

      Thank you for your post. “Even worse is their ability to present in a charming and likable way to outsiders while being monsters in private.” Indeed this is true in our situation. My daughter disclosed sexual abuse by her father. Her father is a pathological liar and mimics symptoms of a psychopath as he is able to blend in with society, appears incredibly charismatic, charming, etc., while feeling no remorse or guilt for any harm he causes anyone else. Worse, he cares so much about his reputation that he makes the politics of his appearance look good as well. He goes to church regularly and plays all the components that apply to his reputation and appearance. He puts all this extra effort in, to appear ‘normal,’ when in fact, he is a monster. How does one reveal the true monster that he is?

  3. Angelo Granda

    Luke, I am interested in your comment about ‘high conflict people with a personality disorder’.
    I feel sure you are right that such characteristics can evolve in both genders( or should I say all genders).
    I wonder at what age the traits first emerge and begin to set within one.
    Early childhood,teens or anytime.
    If high conflict begins in childhood then it should be spotted,addressed and subdued early on before it gets out of control.
    Perhaps you know what are the early signs to be looked out for.Then children can be disciplined and set on the right path early?

  4. Sam

    Angelo . In my personal opinion children who are high conflict, do not need discipline, they need uncondtional love, coupled with boundaries. Boundaries are different from discipline as they are flexible and are less likely to lead to conflict or resentment, from the person to whom they are applied. Also a person with anxiety is frightened, very frightened at times , they need to feel stability and it helps to learn coping mechanisms. As I say it is only my experience, I know you will feel free to disagree.

    1. Angelo Granda

      Sam,I respect all opinions .
      Unconditional love to me includes teaching them self-discipline.
      We all need discipline.Ask the Authorities who impose it upon criminals.
      I don’t really know what the jargon ‘high conflict’ means but I am guessing it relates to a child who is hard to control and who becomes violent, fights and perhaps hurts others.Those sort need disciplining,maybe the naughty step or lines,extra lessons etc.
      From my experience boys who bully other children punching and kicking are best disciplined and taught self-discipline.
      This can be done by taking him to the boxing club.Put him in the ring with a bigger boy first time and he learns what it feels like to get a pasting from a larger person and it teaches him a lesson for life. Then channel the boys physical attributes,teach him how to fight fairly,how to buckle down,follow the rules,self discipline himself and succeed.
      All readers should realise that I am probably quite a bit older than most of you.I totally disagree with corporal punishment myself but I can remember when the schools and authorities used to flog children mercilessly with all kinds of nasty weapons.
      The naughty-step is kinder ,I think .

      1. Angelo Granda

        Naturally men’s ideas will differ from women’s and SW’s will have their own answers for everything.
        We all have to show respect to each other as you and I do.
        However,childcare is not the problem.The problem is child a protection system and inhumanity imposed upon citizen’s by an in just ,out-of-control judiciary ( in secret).

        1. Angelo Granda

          Sam, I come to these discussions from a different direction than you do also these people engaged in the male.v.female debate who are generally involved in private law disputes.
          My concerns are for innocent children and their parents in dispute with the authorities.
          Innocent Mums (and Dads) are systematically dehumanised and demonized purposely in order to impose inhumanity upon them and often shortcomings such as alleged ‘personality disorder’ ,depression etc.after a biased witch hunt of files are used to achieve what are illegitimate goals .
          The SW’s are just the small fry used as tools.They have to do what the powerful mutants ( managers and executives) tell them to.
          These awful people must be opposed and the law enforced.

  5. Jamie

    What a biased article, setting out to achieve a desired outcome from the start. A couple of points being:
    – The statistics show right there at the top of your article that women are far more likely to commit violence/murder against a child, but you try to say that its actually quite an even number when you look at it from a different perspective? Maybe if you close your eyes.
    – You say that 0.13% is MORE (yes you typed more in capital letters to highlight the massive difference between 0.13% and 0.12%) than 0.12%. If you are actually looking at things logically, that is a negligible difference, but you have found a straw to hold on to there. So it seems your point is just to try and show that men are worse than women.
    – Which follows into that I think the biggest problem with this piece, is it offers not even the slightest contribution to the problem. You have merely tried to say that men are more guilty than one might realise, and women not so. You have offered excuses as to why women may be more violent towards children, excuses which I’m sure you would not accept as adequate reasons for men being abusive towards women.
    If you’re going to do a piece like this, please try and help the issue, don’t just sling mud.

    1. Angelo Granda

      Jamie, Let me assure you that the writer of this post is trying to help and solve problems.She works tirelessly to write them,tirelessly to conduct this resource which Is dedicated to reform and spends hours. of her own spare time reading and moderating our comments.
      One measure of the CPR is its impartiality and as part of that you or any other person interested professional can,if you feel so inclined,submit a post of your own.
      Thanks for your comment but if you do send in a longer post,bear in mind that I find statistical arguments such as we see here are off the point for me.
      No-one should be violent towards children .
      Smacking by Mum is not violence or neglect,it is a responsible child-training technique and acceptable in England at least.
      I hear lots of ‘stories’ and read lots of ‘statistics’ about male and female violence and abuse of children but long in the tooth as I am ,I have see very little if any except that dealt out by schoolteacher and authority figures including those who run care-homes both men and women.
      Our main problem is institutional abuse.

    2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Jamie, similarly if you are going to comment, maybe row back from being so rude and impatient? This post was written in response to someone who was very keen to say that women do X Y and Z MORE THAN men. The statistics don’t actually show that. I am well within my rights to point this out. No debate can flourish or have any positive outcome if we are making false factual claims. So when I see them, I will attempt to debunk them. I didn’t wave this post under your nose and demand you read it, if you don’t find it helpful you don’t have to dwell on it. Or write your own response?

    3. Peter Cohen

      Thanks for your post Jamie. I agree the article is very biased and unhelpful. I was alienated from my father and abused by my mother. Finding supporting for this and helping people understand the systemic bias has been a lifelong nightmare. These kinds of articles are definitely part of the problem. Parental alienation often precedes abuse so claims that these figures are simply because more women care for children don’t wash with me. I don’t care where the % lies. What I care about is that people make efforts to tear down the systemic bias against men that precipitates many bad childcare decisions.

      So again, this article isn’t helpful and begins from the premise and agenda of tearing down a statistic from an unhelpful and biased angle.

      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        Sorry you don’t find it helpful. I was attempting to provide some balance and point out that both men and women are capable of enormous cruelty to their children and each other – but I still think the statistics show that the majority of violence and sexual abuse perpetrated against children is committed by men.

    4. Nick

      Fucking loved your comment and when she compared the 0.13 to the 0.12 statistic she didn’t take into account the overall percentage and in that case women are more likely to abuse their kids. She also tried to make excuses as to why women abuse their kids – poverty and stress. That’s not an excuse. That’s like trying to justify murder by saying “well I just couldn’t take it anymore so that was my online solution”. It doesn’t make any sense. She also didn’t include the “women are more likely to abuse their kids” part – National Domestic Violence Statistics. The study she gave us takes into account the 19 Western Nations and we don’t even know if it’s true because there is no actual evidence to support it and it’s a paper from 2013. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers were doubled just so that they could make women look good. If you look closely the study isn’t even an official study and it can’t be found anywhere.

      1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        I can’t explain it any more clearly than I have done Nick. If you can’t understand the point about not looking at raw numbers but their representation in a certain population, then I suspect any further attempts will just keep whizzing over your head.

  6. Ryan Dube

    “You have offered excuses as to why women may be more violent towards children, excuses which I’m sure you would not accept as adequate reasons for men being abusive towards women.”

    This is an excellent point from Jamie – and it’s par for the course on issues like this one. Seems that when the statistics don’t match the “men are inherently evil” belief system, all form of excuses are made to try and evade cognitive dissonance.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I haven’t offered excuses. I have analysed statistics and talked about actual facts. Women are overwelmingly the majority of lone parents and overwhelmingly more likely to be in poverty. This is a fact. Sorry it doesn’t chime with your narrative of ‘men as victims’ but tough. There it its.

      1. Nic

        Interestingly enough, women are majority lone parents because men are victims of family court, and child support abuse. If you look at the cause of your stats, then things get a clearer.

        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          Interestingly enough, you don’t care to provide any statistics to back up this pretty astonishing claim? Many single parents don’t go anywhere near the courts. Men who father children then disappear are a perennial problem and nothing at all to do with any court system. Rather a culture that seems to find this acceptable and does not dish out the appropriate moral or legal condemnation.

          1. Danielle

            Sarah- this is not the case. To begin with single women living in poverty is more closely associated with having a child outside of marriage than it is with being a divorced single parent. Secondly, I’d bet if you took the group of single moms living in poverty, and took the kids out of the mix, almost all those same women, would still be in poverty. There’s endless articles on what actually causes the poverty, and it’s quiye complex. And research shows child support payments increase, when men are given the chance to see there kids and were allowed to be involved with those kids, and when they had a decent relationship with the mother.

            I know this goes both ways, but point is, if you are a broke, sleep with some broke dude who hasn’t made a lifelong commitment to you, and then you get pregnant, having a kid isn’t going to help you get out of poverty. As for guys bailing, well he didn’t want a kid, and guess you did. Then you whine about not having the money for the kid you solely decided to have.

          2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            Sorry, don’t understand the point you are making. Single mothers are overwhelmingly more likely to be poor than women in partnership with others. This isn’t a moral judgment – i am not unpicking their bad choices in men etc – its a fact.

      2. Dima

        Poverty has nothing to do with this at all. during ww2 people were sent to ghettos and concentration camps , and it did not make them become abusive towards their children (most of the time….), quite the contrary, most of the time the parents did everything they could to save their children. if we are talking about the facts, we have to consider the following :
        1. The reason that majority of lone parents are women is because of the courts, to deny the fact that the courts are tilted towards women is like denying that the world is round.
        2. parents are responsible for their children, if someone decides to have kids despite their economic situation, or that they are alone, only shows how responsible they really are.
        3. Psychologically, abuse of children by parents causes at least the same psychological damage as rape
        4. Poverty/difficult situations does not make you hate your children.
        5. It is impossible to say all the time that only a woman has the right to decide to have an abortion, or to give birth, but then to bring poverty as a cause of abuse … This shows a lack of objectivity … to say the least …

        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          To say poverty has ‘nothing’ to do with this is nonsense. Of course being poor does not mean that you automatically hate your children or are bad parents. Many poor parents work very hard to make up for the lack of material opportunities their children have.

          What poverty DOES mean however is that you have much fewer choices and opportunities. If you have a mental or physical disability you can’t pay for extra help or extra equipment to make life easier. Daily life can become a horrible grind of struggle.

          to say this has ‘nothing’ to do with why some parents are bad parents, is simply wrong.

      3. Nick

        You sure did offer excuses. You love debunking stuff. Let me debunk your comments. You tried to justify it by saying “well maybe women live in poverty or they are under stress”. That’s one way you tried to justify shitty behaviour. And as far as I’m concerned, logically speaking, you didn’t debunk anything. You gave reasons as to why it COULD be false but you never really backed up your arguments. If you look at the stats, women are twice as likely to abuse their kids and they are more likely to neglect them – in most cases boys are the victims. You also didn’t meantion how most criminals were raised by single and abusive mums. You also didn’t include the NATIONAL Child Abuse stats which clearly state that over 50% of child abusers are women. You also mentioned that women are more likely to be victims of violence. That’s factually and statistically incorrect. According to the FBI and the Department of Justice men are twice as likely to be victims of violent crimes and boys are 25% more likely to die when they are abused. Not to mention violence at school. You also love talking about debunking stuff but you still haven’t debunked the doemstic violence statistics 90% of which are either biased or don’t take into account different factors.

  7. Nic

    It would be interesting to see how equal shared parenting might alleviate some if these abuses. If society and courts expected both parents to take an equal role. Stress would be reduced greatly, money is great but what allot of single parents need is a break, time for themselves and free time for a life beyond being a parent.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Yes shared parenting is best – IF you can achieve it both emotionally and practically. Insisting on dividing a child’s time ‘equally’ down to the last minute (as I have seen some parents try to insist upon) is unlikely to be in the best interests of any particular child. And unless parents are rich enough to provide two homes of comparable status within easy reach of child’s school and friends, the practical problems can be big too. Better than talking about ‘equal’ shared parenting is to talk about ‘shared parenting’ with both parents having the emotional intelligence to realise and accept that sometimes ‘shares’ are not of equal division and this will fluctuate as child grows and his/her needs change.

  8. Andrew Shapiera

    you are rationalizing behavior for people who kill their own children? I think the overall point should be that the incorrect narrative which exists in society is that fathers are almost always the abusers and that the perception of mothers as only the nurturers in the family could not be guilty of abusing/killing their own child. Care to take that one on?

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Eh? Not sure I understand your point. I am trying to analyse statistics. Facts are facts. You don’t ‘rationalise’ them into or out of existence. They are what they are. I have no where supported any narrative that claims women don’t abuse or kill their children. Of course they do. But overwhelmingly, perpetrators of violence across the board are men. Sorry if that stings, but facts are facts.

      1. revspinnaker

        Sorry if this stings but show me a child burned with cigarettes, starved, chained to a bed, pimped, trafficked… and I’ll show you a woman in the house. I have yet to have a professional in mental health disagree with that assessment. You are obscuring facts to protect abusers to save face for the evil YOUR gender does. Crimes against children are gendered, most are committed by women, usually natural mothers, and most is perpetrated against boys, 60%. Same citations as yours. Facts are facts. Now go tell me why ALL Munchhausen By Proxy cases are perpetrated by YOUR gender.
        You go girl!!!

        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          The criminal justice system will differ I am afraid. Please do share with me the source for your assertion that no man has ever been involved in a fictitious illness case.

          1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            Seriously? Like all the men who have imprisoned and impregnated their children in basement prisons? Please. Men are capable of just as much studied cruelty as women and proportionately much larger amounts of violence and sexual abuse.

  9. Angelo Granda

    FACT: Statistics are not facts and aren’t intended to be. They are propositions.
    FACT: Not many women abuse their children and not many men abuse their children.
    FACT: The Authorities often allege falsely for political reasons that natural parents abuse their children and the system denies those parents their civil rights to a thorough investigation of facts.
    FACT: No publicity is given to cases and hearings are held in closed courts .There are no charges laid and no fair hearing of facts considered by a public jury.
    FACT: We have a ‘culture’ where children are neglected, starved, confined under guard, pimped, trafficked etc. whilst in the ‘care’ system; see various public inquiries and criminal court findings.
    FACT: The Authorities are generally the source of statistics re- abuse which consequently cannot be fully relied upon even as a rough indicator.Neither can Court findings or figures.Particular any American ones.

    In my opinion Reverend Spinnaker, gender arguments are pointless.

  10. Angelo Granda

    FACT: When compiling statistics ,when targeting ‘troubled’ families, when both considering and taking court action aimed at procuring children into the care- system AND when later on taking action to remove newborns from former looked-after children , the Authorities continually and probably deliberately refer to the ‘ likelihood’ of child abuse within a family based on conjecture with ACTUAL CHILD ABUSE within a family.

    No-one actually sees any child-abuse,often there is not a shred of physical evidence of it ,no-one is accused of it thus parents cannot defend themselves in a fair court hearing . Alas ,despite their human rights not to have their lives interfered with without a fair trial of circumstances and facts, we have an inferior civil family court masquerading as a fair one where decisions are taken based on information and ‘data’ which is not validated.

  11. Pete

    Did anyone else read this: “1,704 were killed by a mother acting alone. That represents only 0.12% of the1,452,099 children who are neglected by their mother alone. For fathers, who by themselves neglected 661,129 children, they killed 0.13% (859). So in terms of parents acting alone, fathers kill MORE children than mothers.” and think: thats not at ALL correct (the conclusion)?

      1. Andy

        Men killed 859, women killed 1704, hence, women killed more. You are comparing the portion of victims they are likely to have killed, a relative number that you are trying to compare absolutely.

        The correct statement would be that men are more likely to kill the kids they abuse than women (by 0.01% which is probably within the margin of error).

        What if fathers only abused 10 kids and 4 were killed. That number would be 40%, but you can’t say fathers kill more often than women.

        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          yes. BUT MORE WOMEN have care of children. therefore you can’t just look at raw number. You need to look at number of child deaths in proportion to the number of men or women caring for them.

          1. Nick

            “You have to look at who is caring for them”. That’s not the point of at all. Several people have debunked your statistic which you claim to be a fact and yet you always find excuses. You either say “well it’s because women are the primary careres” or “men in general are more likely to commit crimes”

  12. Danielle

    There are several big issues with drawing conclusions based off the data collected. My main issue would be is that this information is based off the small percentage of cases that were reported. Since a Lot of child abuse is not reported, it makes it difficult to conclusively know much for that matter. All the data actually shows us is what percentage of mothers or fathers abused their children and got caught, and then abuse was reported and analyzed.

    The awful truth is both fathers and mothers are capable of abusing their children. However, we have no way of actually knowing the “Real” Numbers of who’s doing what, so we can’t confidently say we know who’s more likely to do what, based of this data. There seems to be an underlying issue at play… where there’s this divide of us versus them, Mom vs Dad, and this desire to display some superiority to the other ( I honestly see this much with Moms than Dads, however I know it can go both ways). At the end of the day, every parent should strive to be a good parent, and kids need both parents, preferably parents who won’t abuse them, who will support their child having a relationship with the other parent, and to share parenting as equally as possible.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Of course. I accept all you say about data. All we can ever do is analyse the data before us. That allows us to form some tentative views about how that data is represented in the world at large but it can never be offered as a definite absolute about ‘this is what happens’. And I have seen how readily people misinterpret or ignore data in order to arrive at a pre formulated conclusion.

      FWIW my life experiences tell me that men and women abuse and hurt children. But a clear majority of sexual and physical abusers are men.

  13. Adrian

    Last I checked, 1,704 is MORE than 859, no?

    “1,704 were killed by a mother acting alone. That represents only 0.12% of the1,452,099 children who are neglected by their mother alone. For fathers, who by themselves neglected 661,129 children, they killed 0.13% (859). So in terms of parents acting alone, fathers kill MORE children than mothers.”

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Sorry don’t understand your point. the percentage of lone fathers who kill is greater than the percentage of lone mothers who kill. By sheer weight of numbers more children are killed by lone mothers – as 90% of lone parents households, in the UK at least, are lone mothers.

  14. Adrian

    You did not write in your article above that the percentage of lone fathers who kill is greater than the percentage of lone mothers who kill. (Never mind that the difference is 1/100th of a percentage point). What you wrote in your article was: “So in terms of parents acting alone, fathers kill MORE children than mothers.” That statement is not correct. 859 children is not more than 1,704 children.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      The point I was making that the statistics for lone parents at least did not support the assertion that MORE mothers kill than fathers, simply by virtue of their motherhood. The truth, as ever, is a bit more complicated than that. Feel free to disagree with me but please don’t think the simple fact of your disagreement is of any interest or relevance to me.

  15. Adrian

    In fact, one could accurately write that mothers acting alone kill nearly twice as many children as fathers acting alone. Or that 66% of children who are killed by a parent acting alone were killed by a mother rather than a father.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      yes. That would be accurate. What is also accurate is when you boil it down to percentage terms – because MORE mothers have sole care of children than fathers – it is the FATHERS who are more likely to kill. This is why data needs to be interpreted from a number of perspectives. Sheer weight of numbers tells you one thing. But you also need to look at the proportionate representation of individuals in groups.

        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          No Adrian. You are being wilfully obtuse. Let me put it this way. In a group of 100,000 – 5,000 do an awful thing. This is a percentage of 5%. In a group of 100, 50 do an awful thing. Now I agree, 50 is numerically a lot less than 5,000! but as a percentage of the group it is 50%. Are you not a bit more worried about a group where 50% of its members do a horrible thing than the group where only 5% of its members do the horrible thing? Can you really not see the point and value of interpreting data in this way?

          1. Adrian

            You cite a difference of 45 percentage points (5% vs 50%) as your example to support your point. But the reality is the difference is not 45 percentage points, it’s 1/100th of a percentage point. You pretend a 45 percentage point difference is comparable to a 1/100th percentage point difference, but I’M the one being obtuse? That’s actually pretty funny.

          2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            Sigh Adrian. I was trying to help you understand a basic point which you seem to have missed. I am glad to learn that you do in fact understand it.

            One more rude and aggressive comment from you and I shall simply delete all your comments. That’s 100% my rule.

  16. Adrian

    The thing about the percentages you came up with is that they don’t say what you think they do. You’re comparing the number of kids who are killed to the number of kids who are neglected.

    The only thing that those percentages tell us is that When comparing women who acting alone to click their children and Men Who acting alone neglect their children, the likelihood of either group killing that child is almost identical. These numbers do not include those parents who do not neglect their children and so they do not reach the conclusion you claim they do.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Adrian. Let me break it down for you. I think men and women are equally capable of doing horrible and abusive things to children. But as all statistics, criminal convictions and reporting shows me it is overwhelmingly men in all areas of life who are violent and sexually abusive to women and girls. I don’t know why that is but I suspect a toxic mix of testosterone and social conditioning.

      1. Nick

        It’s funny how when Adrian debunked your statistic you started talking about how men are more likely to commit crimes…. Damn you really are pathetic aren’t you ? [I am not publishing comments where people are rude and abusive and I have made this clear. If you are not willing to read or understand my comments policy, then I will end up simply banning you altogether]

  17. Angelo Granda

    No,No. YIt,s primarily caused by moral depravity nothing to do with testosterone or ‘social conditioning’ if by that you mean the extent of wealth,poverty and environmental influences.
    I don’t know the exact stats but I have noticed that both rich and poor men(and women) are alleged to abuse children and that despite obvious improvements in material wealth over the past 60 years,plus improved housing,hygiene facilities and healthcare,child abuse allegations rise and the child protection workers are apparently overwhelmed.
    In my opinion,it is caused by a toxic mix of ‘lack of moral training and example’ at school, idleness ,joblessness and shame induced when many men these days sponge off women,rely on them to get accommodation and then move in with them not save up for their own AND when Jo less,they send the women out to work and live by cadging off them for smokes,beer,drugs etc.
    Then when they are inevitably disrespected for it. Bash ,thump.
    Unless we discuss the causes more realistically and teach moral standards from an early age,human beings are bound to go astray and commit their various misdeeds.
    We all have our own faults and but for the grace of God,we could all kill,in theory.
    Arguments about gender will not help.

  18. TheTruth

    Sarah, it’s very disturbing to see you rationalize why more children are killed by their mothers. I see that you’re twisting the numbers around to support your chauvinistic assumptions. As a survivor of abuse and niglect at the hands of my mother, I see you [Deleted because needlessly abusive. Numbers are not twisted they are reported upon. If you can’t conduct yourself as a rational and courteous adult you are not welcome here]

  19. Dads Rights

    US HHS data shows clearly 70 % of child abuse by the mother alone or in conjunction with others.
    Mom is more likely to be the abusive parent alone or in conjunction with others, twice as likely as dad.

    Has been this way since 2000. The data is simply the data, but it just does not fit the narrative. So it is not spread widely.

    FYI Boys are more likely to be the victims of child abuse as well. The most common perpetrator is Mom.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I did click on your link to have a look at the statistics and was met by lots of files going back many years. This is part of the problem. I just don’t have time to sift though hundreds of pages of documents to check that your interpretation of their results is the same as mine. From other statistics I have studied however, and my own experience of cases now over 20 years, I just cannot agree with a statistic that ‘70%’ of child abuse is carried out by mothers.
      I need to know a lot more about how you define ‘abuse’ for a start. Many fathers claim to me that a mother is abusing a child by not allowing the kind of contact they want. The mothers will reply that this is necessary to protect the child from father’s arbitrary or capricious demands – or even worse. So who is abusing who? Who gets to decide what is ‘abuse’ and who is the perpetrator?
      It is a very difficult topic and much of the time I fear that statistics are used to obfuscate not clarify.

        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          No. The point I make is that mothers AND fathers BOTH do cruel, stupid and careless things that hurt their children. Sometimes they do these things deliberately and sometimes they chose to hurt their children to hurt their ex. This is NOT a sex specific failing but, sadly, a general human one.

        2. Nat

          No your right in most statistics single mother abuse rate is 8/10 number one reason is stressed out. But it hurts eomans feelings so its not true.

      1. Nat

        That number is not allowed because your a female number one reason woman abuse is because of stress alot of my single mother friends mothers abused the crap out of em and should probably be in prison for life i dont know if they called the police or not but or if they all told but wehen i told school or family all i got was shes just stressed give her a break. If it makes you feel better and the situation less woman hating i do belive fathers sexually abuse more but woman dont handle stress well and more likely to end up in poverty then a single father.

      2. Dad’s Rights

        Abuse as defined by the department of health and human services. The statistics are clear and easy to read.

  20. Dads Rights

    The reason this is important is that in screening for abuse, whether in health care facilities, schools etc, more emphasis is placed on screening Dad than Mom, usually subconsciously. Which statistically does not make sense, since the most common child abuser is ….mom. That is the point. It is needed education for those who screen for child abuse to realize that mom is just as likely if not more so to commit child abuse. Little boys are just as vulnerable as little girls. There are good moms and bad moms, There are good dads and bad dads. Implicit bias training is important. But it sometimes is a double edged sword for groups that are used to claiming victim status.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I set out my reasoning clearly and in full in the blog post, so all I can suggest is that you read it.

  21. Angelo Granda

    Never believe official statistics are true as written.Especially in Britain.
    One example of how they can be deceptive.
    It may appear that more women are abusers and that it is because women are more likely to be poor and sole-carers. In actual fact it will be because only the poor and vulnerable are targeted by the system. Much more abuse may involve rich families and involve men and women but these cases are ignored by the system.
    Another example. Many of the men and women counted as abusers have not actually been found guilty of abuse or neglect.It has only been found in the Family Court that the children are likely to have suffered ‘significant’ harm or that their children are at risk of harm in the future.Likelihoods are not actualities.
    Waste of time discussing them really.

  22. Angelo Granda

    I suggest all that all budding and professional statisticians do some research into the victims of real abuse .By real I mean where there have been convictions in a proper court.
    It may be helpful if the gender of the abused themselves are studied.
    Are boys abused more than girls or vice-versa? I imagine boys are naughtier and get bashed by dads more than mums,for example,but because mums spend more time at home boys are more likely to suffer emotional abuse from her on a regular basis.I doubt if there are many convictions for emotional abuse though.
    I doubt if many men bash their daughters but will feel it their duty to protect them from harm by denying them freedom to roam and keep them in or deny them freedom on the internet etc.They also probably raise there voices more than mums do. Mums are more likely to slap girls about but lack the physical strength to catch and abuse the boys.This is why they say,wait til dad gets home.
    Men probably bash their wives more than the other way round but I think the wives dish out much abuse verbal and emotional to their husbands to control them .
    I imagine also that children of both sexes are abused more by step fathers and most others than by blood parents.There is much resentment of step-fathers from children missing their real dads,obviously.
    Can any statistician answer these points?

  23. Dad’s Rights


    Please clarify your professional background. The data are pretty clear. Mothers are at least as likely to abuse kids as dad. If that is not your experience, than most likely you are missing many cases of child abuse by mom. Are you open to that possibility

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      This post is about me analysing one particular piece of data that was sent to me by someone arguing that MORE women abuse children then men. On my analysis of THAT data I concluded that his analysis was false. I can’t comment on any other data as I didn’t analyse any other. Nor am I making predications across the system as a whole based on one piece of data. Read the post again.

  24. Dad’s Rights

    Or rather let me phrase it this way. Can you acknowledge the system misses lots of cases of child abuse? That’s school teachers, pediatricians , mental health professionals everyone. Can you acknowledge that maybe we miss lots of cases perpetrated by mom because our instinct is to assume dad is the likely perpetrator?

    As a physician I have learned and been trained over many years to value data in conjunction with my “gut”. Even if we think a procedure should work if the data shows otherwise we modify our practice if careful science shows otherwise.

    This seems simple to me. If the epidemiological data shows that mom is often the perpetrator shouldn’t that be a part of the education for mandated reporters. It is actually not relevant if the percentage is 40% or 70%. It’s a substantial proportion of child abuse that is carried out by mom.

    The system should be vigilant to the possibility.

    The question is do you and people like you have the courage to see it and modify the screening process to reflect statistical reality.

    Are you familiar with the concept of a gold standards? The lack thereof makes statistics in child abuse more challenging. But the statistics show the perpetrator is often mom. Maybe even the most likely culprit.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I am sure the system misses a lot. It is after all devised by and operated by humans who are fallible. However, I repeat, for this post I analysed ONE piece of data and came to certain conclusions which I think are correct, based on my interpretation of the data. That is all. If you wish to argue that in fact more women are abusive than men across the board, then show me the data.

      From my experience in child protection work – now 20 years – I am quite sure that human wickedness and frailty is not confined to one sex alone. Men and women are capable of treating their children really badly. However by every metric of which I am aware, men still perpetrate the majority of sexual and violent offences against women and children.

      1. Dads Rights

        And your unwillingness and that of many in the system that is supposed to protect kids to acknowledge that moms are often the culprits of child abuse is what lead to cases like the horrific case in Crystal Lake recently.

        The child’s maternal grandmother tried to take the child away from the mom. The court system and child protective services simply did not do their jobs. Because those people face no accountability. The system failed this kid. Miserably. Because the system emphasized giving mom more chances rather than acknowledging there are bad moms.

        Look up the DHHS data in the US. 2016. Very clear. Gold standard as far as such stuff goes. Lots of violent child abuse by moms. The legal system largely ignores. And faces no consequences for its failures.

        Or look at this very nice summary.

        You don’t want to hear this but here is the truth. If you haven’t seen lots of mom’s abusing their kids in your 20 years, its not that you haven’t come across abusive moms. You have just missed it.

        In Illinois this case will hopefully be a rallying cry. The system is failing. The system has been failing for years. The system needs to change. Dramatically. There can be no more excuses. Lets stop trying to defend a system that cannot or should no be defended. Enough is enough.

        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          I have never denied women abuse children. But recognising that the majority of violent and sexual abuse is perpetrated by men does not negate the harm done by women.

          1. Nick

            You never denied women abuse kids. That’s correct. But you tried to argue that men are more likely to be the perpetrators, which is not true. And Dad’s rights debunked your arguments. Oh you wanna talk about sexual assault. Let’s talk about forced penetration where 80% of the perpetrators are women. Let’s talk about juveniles and prisoners who are raped by police staff most of which is female. It’s true men are more likely to commit violent crimes. You mentioned domestic violence, right ? Statistically speaking women are more likely to hit first and they are more likely to use a weapon – for example a knife. Men leave more damage on average. One in 7/6 men are severely damaged by a partner – National Hotline for Domestic Abuse – most studies are in favour of women and our shelters receive no funding. Men are also more likely to be the victims of violent and hate crimes, but you didn’t mention that did you. You said fathers on average are more likely to kill their kids (0.1%) – you simply compared the overall statistics to the possiblity of these kids to die. You misread the statistic and several people such as Adrian debunked it. The stats also don’t take into account teachers, social workers, babysitters where the perpetrators are almost always female. Infanticide – also female. According to the national hotline for child abuse and the Bureau of Justice – women on average are more likely to abuse their kids. Most mass shooters were raised by abusive moms. I’m not saying men don’t kill their kids. In some cases they are more likely to kill them, but stop making excuses mate.

          2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

            Weird eh how the number of female mass shooters are infinitesimally small, but hey! you can still make it all about the woman by blaming the mothers. And where were their dads I wonder?

            I am not making excuses. I analysed a certain set of statistics and came up with a certain set of facts, which I note YEARS later various furious MRAs are still annoyed about.

            While this is amusing to watch, it doesn’t actually add anything to the sum of human knowledge, so I am not going to respond to comments about this any more.

            Men are overwhelmingly more likely to commit violent offences in every scenario. That is just a fact. I am sorry you don’t like it, but as the famous saying goes – facts don’t care about your feelings.

  25. Peter Cohen

    Thanks for the article but I believe it is really biased and unhelpful.

    Being stressed out is not an excuse for abuse and is the last thing a child of an abusive mother needs to hear. I have struggled my whole life to get support for the parental alienation and child abuse I experienced from my mother.

    The “cut her some slack, she was stressed out.” rhetoric is now archaic and needs to change. The statistics clearly show this is a both genders issue, whichever way you read them. So why even take all this time to refocus the gender statistic? It seems really trivial. If it’s 90% 70% or 50% women does it make a huge difference? The bias against men is out of order in ANY of these cases.

    Indeed your comment about .1% MORE was quite revealing of a petty trivial refocusing statistics, while actually a real issue exists in either case.

    The fact is there is systemic bias against men in our childcare systems. Arguing the %’s and becoming an apologist for one gender doesn’t help. Parental alienation often precedes single parent child abuse so overstating the relevance of the 91% of carers is also refocusing the problem unreasonably.

    Your unnecessary refocusing of the statistics actually put you in the camp of making this a gender polarising issue, which is unhelpful. The system is broken and too easily abused and defended by well-meaning misguided articles, such as yours.

    Basically, you took one gender polarising situation and, admittedly cleverly, flipped it. But you are still gender polarising.

    The focus needs to be on which abused and at-risk children have access to the support they need… and which don’t. Children abused by women have far less access to support than those abused by men, even not-withstanding the .1% MORE that are killed by men.

    How many children of abusive fathers have to live out their lives hearing “He was probably just stressed out? Not that it’s an excuse.”

    If you want to play the gender statistics game, try comparing that gender statistic.

    1. john hall

      Many women really DO perceive men as THE power- gender. They therefore interpret the mens side of an argument as an attempt, yet again, to assert male dominance by accusing ( at least relatively) innocent women of complicity. This can be seen as an excuse for men to continue a dangerous power imbalance in their own favor, and it must be stopped AT ALL COST.

      Many men , on the other hand, perceive the disingenuous groupthink defensiveness of women as yet more evidence for societies unchallenged bias in womens´ favour . Resulting legislation, for example, further skews any fairness , while men go largely unheard. Their suffering is not allowed to find expression.

      Both parties perceive the others voice as being the louder , and increasingly so. There is now a shouting match. going on.

      The real news in this article is not that one sex is more responsible than the other, or that both sexes are equally capable of child abuse and neglect.
      What IS newsworthy is that women are at all capable, and in large numbers . Larger numbers than most people would ever have imagined, especially when compared to men.

      If we were to survey the general public , we all know that most people, regardless of gender, would have a preformed notion that men are significantly more likely to abuse or neglect children than women, and that women are indeed the relatively ” innocent” gender in this matter.

      That’s why these statistics are important. It is not that statistics are always accurate, but they do imply , in this case at least, that a credible argument can be made against the aforementioned bias. There are countless examples where statistics are counter to current pro- women prejudice in many aspects of modern Western life , but they don’t always get the publicity they warrant. Imagine, for example, the outcry were most of the deaths of women under 50 due to suicide. I suppose the argument were this to be the case would be that female suicide could be attributed to male dominance.

      So too with the case made by Sarah. Of course its men Everybody knows this. Now how do I argue that ?

      Women feel more empathy for other women. Children feel more empathy for women . Even ( especially) men feel more empathy for women than they do for their own sex. (There are obvious evolutionary reasons for this, including sexual competition , limited eggs compared to sperm , and relative physical strength . These reasons may even account for why it is boys that appear more frequently to be the victims of death at the hands of a parent. )

      Now don’t forget chaps : in the last century, whole nations in their tens of millions were subject to the over exertion of the masculine principal. The consequences of continuing this imbalance would be catastrophic. The pendulum has swung the other way. In a sense it can be expected , even necessary.

      But I think truth is important : even more important than ” facts” .

      Often, truth is best discovered by arguing in support of the opposing team, so to speak. This at least demonstrates that we are fair-minded and capable of even handed judgement. We may even arrive at new unexpected conclusions.

      If the author insists in the purity of her investigation and in the correctness of her conclusion of diminished female culpability , then let her. I don’t believe she is CONSCIOUSLY trying to pull wool over our eyes. She has worked hard and is fighting her corner. She will, however, most probably be preaching to the converted in her flock. And , hey , let us at least entertain the slight possibility that she may even be right. Furthermore, there may even be factors we know nothing about. ( OMG. Is that even possible? )

      However , the message of the statistics she presents shows grounds for reasonable doubt. And simply THIS ALONE is newsworthy. In this mad gender-conflict dystopia we are increasingly being propelled into, it is cause for some satisfaction for those claiming a current unjust , unconscious sociological bias in favor of females and the feminine.

      Women and men need each other. Ignor this and we will kill our children or even kill the prospects of having any psychologically functioning children whatsoever. It could be the feminists were right: men and women ARE equal after all. It could also be that non- feminists are right too: Men and women have ALWAYS been equal . ( Not that anybody can ever show me anything ; any object , any being , particle, either plural or singular that has ever been equal to another thing , object , being or particle. The concept of equality only works as a mathematical ploy, and it has fooled the world.)

      It was my father who abused me most . My mother much less so. Were we equally to blame for what subsequently happened to me? Actually, probably yes. It helps to think like that.
      Am I now primarily responsible for cleaning up my act ? Oh Yeah . You can count on that .

      1. Angelo Granda

        John,Thanks for the comment and good luck to anyone looking for the truth. I have written above that gender arguments are somewhat irrelevant.
        Even-handed judgment leads me to ask is there indeed any truth in the allegation that your father abused you? Was it found by a Court beyond reasonable doubt or was it merely the finding of a Family Court Judge? Did he actually abuse you? Or have you merely been told he did?
        If you are certain in your own mind he did,what form did the abuse take? Do you remember events or were you very young?
        Assuming you were taken away from your parents ,was it proportionate?
        When families are liquidated, it is most likely you were failed not only by your father and mother but also by the system . There was no family safety net. I’m afraid to say that very often children in care and those adopted are seriously misled and brain-washed. It is deliberate policy to alienate them from natural family. That is a fact although i suppose we should not refer to facts in child-protection.Just false data and predication.

      2. Sarah Phillimore Post author

        If the author insists in the purity of her investigation and in the correctness of her conclusion of diminished female culpability

        O for goodness sake. You haven’t read a word I have written have you?


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