Study finds children from single-parent homes more likely to be sexually abused

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Children from single-parent homes are much more likely to be sexually abused - a study carried out at University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine suggests.

Previous studies have found that children being raised in single-parent homes are at greater health and other kinds of risks. The new study shows that these risks include higher risk of childhood sexual abuse. This especially concerns low-income one-parent households.

Dr. William C. Holmes, MD, MSCE, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania says that the problem involves psychological and emotional aspects.

Сhildren from one-parent homes do need more communication with their moms or dads. However, the parents are often absent from the home, being busy working to provide their children with basic necessities. The children have to find someone who would be a parent-substitute with whom to communicate and to share experiences. Molesters take advantage of this situation and become friends to these emotionally-needy children.

Holmes says that low-income single-parent households are at greater risk due to the type of childcare facilities available to children from such families. Unfortunately, these are not facilities with thorough oversight of who is a caregiver of a child.

According to Holmes, studies like this one suggest that there should be some interventions to help single parents and their children, for instance through funding of better childcare facilities.