New research has been published which suggests that the most serious child abuse injuries are caused by men who are not related to the victim. The findings were presented at this year’s American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) national conference.

This latest development turns current thinking about child abuse perpetrators on its head, and has important implications for the way abuse is addressed and prevented in America, Britain and the rest of the world.

Led by research fellow Dr Omar Z. Ahmed, M.D, the investigation involved reviewing the records of children admitted to hospital from 2013 to 2015 to evaluate and treat non-accidental trauma, identifying 225 cases of child abuse.

Dr Ahmed observed:

“Among the 150 children hospitalized after suffering non-accidental trauma during the study period, 68.4 percent were injured by a parent; 14 percent were injured by a step parent, boyfriend or girlfriend; 9.7 percent were injured by a daycare staff member or babysitter; and 4.6 percent were injured by a relative.

By far, parents were more likely to be perpetrators of the confirmed or suspected child abuse. However, children injured by a parent’s partner–a group that was overwhelmingly male–were more likely to be more severely injured, to experience severe head injuries and were more likely to require intubation compared with children who were abused by a parent.”

Dr Ahmed suggests widening the net when looking to create policies to prevent child abuse, by redefining targeted caregiver groups to include babysitters, mothers’ boyfriends and day care staff. He also believes a pre-emptive approach is best, which focuses on educating care givers about their duties and behaviours around children as well as knowing how to manage children when they become challenging.

Omar Z. Ahmed


Dr Omar Ahmed