These findings provide insights that may prove helpful in designing improved prevention and intervention programs. It is especially clear that if prevention and treatment interventions for child maltreatment are targeted primarily toward women, a large proportion of perpetrators will not benefit from these efforts. Similarly, in-home services, in their most narrow sense, may be missing the opportunity to involve men who maltreat children but are not living in the home.
The findings also make it clear that male perpetrators who are not biological fathers were more commonly associated with physical abuse and sexual abuse, older children, and female children. Similarly, when acting alone, biological fathers and father surrogates were more often perpetrators of physical and sexual abuse, but when acting with the mother were more often associated with neglect. The relatively large proportion of stepfathers and adoptive fathers associated with sexual abuse, as well as with older, female children, suggests the need for prevention efforts in blended and adoptive families.
The third area of findings with potential policy implications is that male perpetrators have many different relationships with their victims. The findings and the literature suggest that interventions that strengthen the role of fathers to prevent further child maltreatment and improve child well-being are a complex undertaking. This study provides insights into this complexity by identifying clear subgroups of perpetrators. Because of the distinct differences among these male perpetrators with different relationships to their victims, interventions of all types may need to be more highly differentiated.