W. Bradford Wilcox, Ph.D.
Associate Professor Department of Sociology, University of Virginia
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The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children

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Religion, Convention, and Paternal Involvement

  Abstract: Family scholarship has generally overlooked the influence that religion may have on paternal involvement. Accordingly, using longitudinal data taken from the National Survey of Families and Households, I examined the influence of religious affiliation and attendance on the involvement of residential fathers in one-on-one activities, dinner with their families, and youth activities and found religious effects for each of these three measures. Virtually no evidence was found for a competing hypothesis that these effects are artifacts of a conventional habitus such that the type of men who are more conventional in their patterns of civic engagement are both more religious and more involved with their children. However, civic engagement is positively related to paternal involvement.  

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Protectors or Perpetrators: Fathers, Mothers, and Child Abuse and Neglect

  Abstract: This brief explores what role fathers play in perpetrating or protecting their children from child neglect and abuse. The conventional wisdom—as articulated both in the popular culture and the media—holds that fathers are the main perpetrators of childhood abuse and neglect. Conventional wisdom, as this brief suggests, is not grounded in empirical research. In fact, except when it comes to the problem of sexual abuse, mothers are more likely to abuse or neglect their children than are fathers, largely because they spend more time caring for children than do fathers. Moreover, studies indicate that fathers, especially married fathers who live with their children, play an important role in protecting their children from abuse and neglect, a fact that is often overlooked by researchers, policymakers, and the media. This is not to say that fathers play no role in child abuse and neglect; research indicates that a little more than a third of maltreatment cases do involve fathers. Accordingly, this brief details the role that fathers play in protecting their children from or perpetrating child abuse and neglect, and it explores the social, emotional, and economic factors associated with paternal abuse and neglect.