Although child neglect is one of the most common forms of maltreatment and continues to increase in Canada, it is one of the least studied. In particular, little is known about the situation of fathers in neglectful families. This study looked at data from 1266 neglecting families, gathered by the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect- 2003. It aimed to 1) describe the different family structures characteristic of neglectful families in order to distinguish the place of mothers and fathers; 2) compare the socio-demographic characteristics and personal problems between fathers and mothers (intergender differences), and 3) compare socio-demographic characteristics and personal problems between fathers and between mothers (intragender differences).
Results showed that mothers are proportionately more likely to be grappling with various personal problems than are fathers, although fathers are more likely than mothers to be involved with criminal activity. Single-parent families headed by women have to cope with more severe situations, whereas intact families are, on the whole, better off. Fathers of intact neglectful families are less likely to have problems with alcohol and substance abuse than other family types, and single-parent fathers in neglectful families have a greater likelihood of being unemployed, but otherwise there were few differences among fathers of different family structures. Among mothers of families with different structures, however, there were many differences, with mothers who are heads of single-parent families having the worst situations. Results showed that men are very often present in the lives of neglectful families, and fathers and mothers are often grappling with different personal problems. Overall, the women had more problems than the men.