||Adult men who grew up in one-parent
households are more likely to have been abused as children, according
to a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania
School of Medicine.
||Though all one-parent homes appeared to have
imparted risk-for-abuse, risk-for-abuse in one-parent homes was
higher in the lower income groups than it was in the higher income
||The study findings are reported in the March 13th issue of
the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
(PHILADELPHIA) – Adult men who grew up in one-parent households
are more likely to have been abused as children, according to a
study conducted at the University
of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. William
C. Holmes, MD, MSCE, Assistant
Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania,
and at the Center
for Health Equity Research and Promotion at the
Philadelphia VA Medical
Center, reports his findings in the March
13th issue of the Journal of Epidemiology
and Community Health.
“Children being raised by one parent are at a greater risk
for many things as they grow up, including health risks such as
poorly-controlled diabetes and asthma,” said Holmes. “We
now must add childhood
sexual abuse to part of this risk picture.”
The study adjusted for socioeconomic
status, and still found that
children of one-parent households were at an increased risk for
childhood sexual abuse. Though all one-parent homes appeared to
have imparted risk-for-abuse, risk-for-abuse in one-parent homes
was higher in the lower income groups than it was in the higher
“There is definitely something about being raised by one-parent
that independently contributes to the higher risk for sexual abuse.
While children from lower income one-parent households are at a
higher risk, better socioeconomics of the household don’t
make the risk go away completely.”
Holmes believes that there may be a psychological and emotional
aspect involved in the increased risk for all one-parent homes.
According to Holmes, single-parent homes are likely to have the
parent absent a good portion of the time because she or he must
work to provide all the basic necessities for the family. Unfortunately,
the children of this absentee parent will likely be looking for
an adult to bond with, to share experiences with. “Predators
are pretty good at finding and grooming these sorts of kids,” said
Holmes. “They set children up over time, earn their trust,
act as parent-substitutes by giving them attention and sometimes
Holmes believes that when you add low socioeconomic status to
the equation, the likelihood for a predator having easy access
to emotionally-needy children is increased by the type of childcare
facilities available to children of low-income, single-parents.
These often are not facilities with good oversight of who the child
caregivers are. And oftentimes, a single-parent just has to trust
that all is okay, and trust is not as thorough as a background
“The individuals that are heading up these one-parent homes
are unsung heroes, serving in the dual capacity as parent and provider,
and are doing amazing things,” concluded Holmes. “Studies
like this one call for interventions that will provide more help
to these heroes and the homes they head up… for example,
through actual funding of better childcare facilities and/or increasing
oversight of who provides the childcare at such facilities.”
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