As the figure below illustrates, children are safest when they’re living with their married biological parents—but if they’re instead living with just one parent and that parent’s partner (typically a mother and her boyfriend), they’re more than six times as likely to be neglected and more than eleven times as likely to suffer abuse. Other living arrangements—with other married parents, unmarried parents, neither parent, or a single parent with no partner—fall somewhere between those two extremes. “Children do best with a mother and a father” may be a tired cliché, but it also appears to be true. child abuse chart Of course, that’s not to say that every single mother should immediately marry her child’s father. As accounts of domestic violence in books like Promises I Can Keep show, for a woman to stay with her child’s father could mean exposing not only herself but also her child to a greater risk of abuse. (Studies show that perpetrators of domestic violence often also commit child abuse.)

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