Fathers and Child Maltreatment: A Research Agenda Based on Evolutionary Theory and Behavioral Biology Research
David J. Herring
University of New Mexico School of Law
August 1, 2009
Children and Youth Services Review, Vol. 31, pp. 935–945, 2009
U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-18
Children face a risk of maltreatment at the hands of fathers or father figures. But different types of fathers and different fathering situations present different levels of risk of child maltreatment. The question is whether this variance in risk is predictable in a way that could be useful in constructing and guiding aspects of child welfare policy and practice. This article answers this question in the affirmative by drawing on evolutionary concepts and behavioral biology research that address expected levels of male parental investment. In answering this question, this article delineates a research agenda for the examination of child maltreatment by fathers.
The research agenda has significant implications for child welfare policy and practice related to risk assessment and child placement. Research that identifies father-types and father-situations that exhibit or evoke relatively low levels of male parental investment will provide new knowledge that will enhance the validity and reliability of actuarial risk assessment instruments. In addition, research that delineates father situations that evoke a relatively high level of male parental investment will provide information that guides caseworkers in constructing placements that are characterized by a high level of foster parent investment and a low risk of child maltreatment
Number of Pages in PDF File: 38
Keywords: Child maltreatment, Child placement, Fathers, Risk assessment, Evolutionary concepts, Genetic relatedness, Kinship altruism, Kinship cues, Mating effort, Parental investment
JEL Classification: J12, J13, K19, K39Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: May 16, 2010
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