Differences and similarities between mothers’ and fathers’ risk factors for child maltreatment

Hanne Duindam*, Annemiek Vial, Merian B.R. Bouwmeester-Landweer, Claudia E. van der Put

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Parental risk factors play an important role in child maltreatment, however, little is known about the role of fathers’ risk factors. Objective: The current study aimed to compare fathers and mothers in terms of (1) the prevalence and impact of risk factors for perpetrating child maltreatment and (2) the interplay of risk factors. Participants: The Dutch sample consisted of 4090 mothers and 3973 fathers who had a newborn and received health-and developmental checks between October 2001 and November 2002. Methods: Risk factors were assessed using the Instrument for Identification of Parents at Risk for Child Abuse and Neglect (IPARAN) and child maltreatment was defined as a verified report at Child Protection Services in a period of 3-years following completion of the IPARAN. McNemar tests and network analyses were performed. Results: Results demonstrated that the majority of assessed risk factors were related to perpetrating future child maltreatment for both fathers and mothers. In general, risk factors were more prevalent in mothers than in fathers. Inability to ask for help was the risk factor that was most prevalent for both mothers (22.4%) and fathers (22%). The risk factors worries about raising the child, unhappy during pregnancy, and losing control when angry were more strongly related to future child maltreatment in mothers compared to fathers, whereas risk factors related to their own child maltreatment in the past and experiencing a lack of support were more impactful for fathers compared to mothers. For fathers and mothers, belief in physical punishment and risk factors related to their own history of child maltreatment were most central. Conclusions: Overall, these findings underscore the importance of considering the long-lasting, intergenerational effects of child maltreatment. Intergenerational trauma may put parents at a higher risk of becoming perpetrators; our network results confirm that these risk factors deserve an important spot in prevention efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106902
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • Child maltreatment
  • Fathers
  • Intergenerational trauma
  • Interplay of risk factors
  • Mothers
  • Network analysis


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