Child maltreatment is a critical concern in rural communities. Fathers perpetrate a substantial proportion of maltreatment cases and are overrepresented as perpetrators of severe physical abuse and fatalities. Despite this heightened risk, little research has examined risk of abuse and neglect among fathers in rural areas. The current study examined the contributions of social information processing (SIP) factors and economic stress to multiple indicators of maltreatment risk in a sample of 61 disadvantaged rural fathers of 2- to 6-year-old children. Results for the SIP model of maltreatment risk provide some support for its extension to fathers. Considered all together, SIP factors were associated with more inconsistent parenting and maladaptive injury prevention beliefs. Specific SIP factors of unrealistic expectations for children and poorer executive functioning were associated with more maladaptive injury prevention beliefs. With regard to economic stress, fewer economic resources were associated with greater child abuse potential, more inconsistent parenting, and poorer quality home environments, while less economic security was associated with greater child abuse potential. Analyses found evidence for independent additive effects of SIP and economic stress. Findings highlight the importance of fathers’ cognition and economic stress in children’s risk of physical abuse, neglect, and unintentional injuries.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology