Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 31, Issue 5, pp 539–548 | Cite as

Understanding the Roles of Context, Frequency, and Quantity of Alcohol Consumption in Child Physical Abuse: Risks for Mothers and Fathers

  • Jennifer Price WolfEmail author
  • Bridget Freisthler
Original Article


Alcohol use is related to child physical abuse, although little is known about gender-specific risks factors. This study examines the relationships between alcohol outlets, context-specific drinking, dose–response drinking and child physical abuse for mothers and fathers. Telephone interviews were conducted with 1973 female and 1050 male respondents in 50 California cities. Weighted negative binomial models were used to calculate the frequency of physical abuse in the past year. Drinking more often at restaurants was related to higher frequency of physical abuse for fathers, while mothers who drank more frequently at bars and parties used physical abuse more often. There were no significant dose–response drinking relationships for fathers. Drinking higher amounts at bars, parties, and restaurants was associated with less frequent physical abuse for mothers. Our findings suggest that a focus on drinking contexts may reveal heightened risk for many mothers who do not consume large amounts of alcohol.


Alcohol Drinking contexts Physical abuse Gender Alcohol outlets 


  1. Afifi, T. O., Mota, N., MacMillan, H. L., & Sareen, J. (2013). Harsh physical punishment in childhood and adult physical health. Pediatrics, 132(2), 333–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ammerman, R. T., Kolko, D. J., Kirisci, L., Blackson, T. C., & Dawes, M. A. (1999). Child abuse potential in parents with histories of substance use disorder. Child Abuse & Neglect, 23(12), 1225–1238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Asia, N., de Paul, J., & Perez-Albeniz, A. (2011). Emotion recognition in fathers and mothers at high-risk for child physical abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect, 35(9), 712–721.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bahler, C., Dey, M., Dermota, P., Foster, S., Gmel, G., & Mohler-Kuo, M. (2014). Does drinking location matter? Profiles of risky single-occasion drinking by location and alcohol-related harm among young men. Frontiers in Public Health, 2, 64.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Baraona, E., Abbittan, C. S., Dohmen, K., Moretti, M., Pozzato, G., Chayes, Z. W., et al. (2001). Gender differences in Pharmocokinetics of alcohol. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 25(4).Google Scholar
  6. Berger, L. M. (2005). Income, family characteristics, & physical violence toward children. Child Abuse & Neglect, 29, 107–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brick, J. M., Waksberg, J., Kulp, D., & Starer, A. (1995). Bias in list-assisted telephone samples. Public Opinion Quarterly, 59, 218–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bushman, B. (1997). Effects of alcohol on human aggression. Recent Developments in Alcoholism, 13, 227–243.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Cho, Y. I., & Crittenden, K. S. (2006). The impact of adult roles on drinking among women in the United States. Substance Use and Misuse, 41(1), 17–34.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Clark, W. B. (1981). Public drinking contexts: bars and taverns. In T. C. Harford & L. S. Gaines (Eds.), Social Drinking Contexts. Washington, D.C.: NIAAA Research Monograph No. 7, DHHS Publication No. (ADM 81–1097).Google Scholar
  11. Cohen, S., & Hoberman, H. (1983). Positive events and social supports as buffers of life change stress. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 13, 99–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Correl, S. J., Bernard, S., & Paik, I. (2007). Getting a job: is there a motherhood penalty? American Journal of Sociology, 112(5), 1297–1338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Craig, L. (2006). Does father care mean fathers share?: a comparison of how mothers and fathers in intact families spend time with children. Gender and Society, 20(2), 259–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Curtin, R., Presser, S., & Singer, E. (2005). Changes in telephone survey nonresponse over the past quarter century. Public Opin Quart, 69, 87–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dijst, M. (1999). Two-earner families and their action spaces: a case study of two Dutch communities. GeoJournal, 48, 195–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Elliott, J. C., Stohl, M., Wall, M. M., Keyes, K. M., Goodwin, R. D., Skodol, A. E., et al. (2014). The risk for persistent adult alcohol and nicotine dependence: the role of childhood maltreatment. Addiction.Google Scholar
  17. Famularo, R., Stone, K., Barnum, R., & Wharton, R. (1986). Alcoholism & severe child maltreatment. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 56, 481–485.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Fang, X., Brown, D. S., Florence, C. S., & Mercy, J. A. (2012). The economic burden of child maltreatment in the United States and implications for prevention. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(2), 156–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fillmore, M. T., & Weafer, J. (2004). Alcohol impairment of behavior in men and women. Addiction, 99(10), 1237–1246.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Freisthler, B. (2011). Alcohol use, drinking venue utilization, and child physical abuse: results from a pilot study. Journal of Family Violence, 26(3), 185–193.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. Freisthler, B., & Gruenewald, P. J. (2013). Where the individual meets the ecological: a study of parent drinking patterns, alcohol outlets, and child physical abuse. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37(6), 993–1000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fuller-Thomson, E., Brennenstuhl, S., & Frank, J. (2011). The association between childhood physical abuse and heart disease in adulthood: findings from a representative community sample. Child Abuse & Neglect, 34(9), 689–698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gruenewald, P. J., Remer, L., & LaScala, E. (2014). Testing a social ecological model of alcohol use: the Calfornia 50-city study. Addiction, 109(5), 736–745.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  24. Gussler-Burkhardt, N., & Giancola, P. (2005). A further examination of gender differences in alcohol-related aggression. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 66(3), 413–422.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Herd, D., & Grube, J. (1993). Drinking contexts and drinking problems among black and white women. Addiction, 88, 1101–1110.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Jones, L. (2004). The prevalence and characteristics of substance abusers in a child protective services sample. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 4(2), 33–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jones, M., & Pebley, A. R. (2014). Redefining neighborhoods using common destinations: social characteristics of activity spaces and home census tracts compared. Demography.Google Scholar
  28. Kairouz, S., & Greenfield, T. K. (2007). A comparative multi-level analysis of contextual drinking in American and Canadian adults. Addiction, 102(1), 71–80.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Kelleher, K., Chaffin, M., Hollenberg, J., & Fischer, E. (1994). Alcohol and drug disorders among physically abusive and neglectful parents in a community-based sample. American Journal of Public Health, 84(10), 1586–1590.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  30. Kempf, A. M., & Remington, P. L. (2007). New challenges for telephone survey research in the 21st century. Annual Review of Public Health, 28, 113–126.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Kohut, A., Keeter, S., Doherty, C., Dimock, M., & Christian, L. (2012). Assessing the representativeness of public opinion surveys. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.Google Scholar
  32. Kwan, M.-P. (2000). Gender differences in space-time constraints. Area, 32(2), 145–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Laslett, A. M., Room, R., Dietze, P., & Ferris, J. (2012). Alcohol’s involvement in recurrent child abuse and neglect cases. Addiction, 107(10), 1786–1793.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. McBride, B. A., & Mills, G. (1993). A comparison of mother and father involvement with their preschool children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 8, 457–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Miller, B. A., Smyth, N. J., & Mudar, P. J. (1999). Mothers’ alcohol and other drug problems and their punitiveness toward their children. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 60(5).Google Scholar
  36. Paradis, C., Demers, A., & Nadeau, L. (1999). Positional role changes and drinking patterns: results of a longitudinal study. Contemporary Drug Problems, 26, 53–73.Google Scholar
  37. Paradis, C., Demers, A., Nadeau, L., & Picard, E. (2011). Parenthood, alcohol intake, and drinking contexts: Occasio Furem Facit. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 72(2), 259–269.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  38. Parker, K., & Wang, W. (2013). Modern parenthood: Roles of moms and dads converge as they balance work and family. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center.Google Scholar
  39. Perez-Albeniz, A., & de Paul, J. (2004). Gender differences in empathy in parents at high- and low-risk of child physical abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect, 28(3), 289–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ponicki, W. R., Gruenewald, P. J., Remer, L., Martin, T. E., Treno, A. J. (2013). Assessing the validity of on-premise alcohol license data in six communities in California: operating characteristics and outlet densitites. Substance Use and Misuse.Google Scholar
  41. Sampson, R. J., Raudenbush, S. W., & Earls, F. (1997). Neighborhoods and violent crime: a multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science, 277, 981–924.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Scott, K., Schafer, J., & Greenfield, T. (1999). The role of alcohol in physical assault perpetration and victimization. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 60(4), 528–536.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Sedlak, A. J., Metternburg, J., Besena, M., Petta, I., McPherson, K., Greene, A., et al. (2010). Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4): Report to Congress. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.Google Scholar
  44. Shapiro, A., & Krysik, J. (2010). Finding fathers in social work research and practice. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, 20(1).Google Scholar
  45. Springer, K. W., Sheridan, J., Kuo, D., & Carnes, M. (2007). Long-term physical and mental health consequences of childhood physical abuse: results from a large population-based sample of men and women. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31(5), 517–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Straus, M. A., & Fauchier, A. (2011). Manual for the Dimensions of Disciple Inventory (DDI). Durham, NH: Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire.Google Scholar
  47. Straus, M. A., Hamby, S. L., Finkelhor, D., Moore, D. W., & Runyan, D. (1998). Identification of child maltreatment with the parent–child conflict tactics scales: development & psychometric data for a national sample of American parents. Child Abuse & Neglect, 22(4), 249–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2012). 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Available at:
  49. Treno, A. J., Alaniz, M. L., & Gruenewald, P. J. (2000). The use of drinking places by gender, age and ethnic groups: an analysis of routine drinking activities. Addiction, 95(4), 537–551.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Trillo, A. D., Merchant, R. C., Baird, J. R., Liu, T., & Nirenberg, T. D. (2012). Sex differences in alcohol misuse and estimated blood alcohol concentrations among emergency department patients: implications for brief interventions. Academic Emergency Medicine, 19(8), 924–933.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  51. Tucker, C., Lepkowski, J. M., & Piekarski, L. (2002). The current efficiency of list-assisted telephone sampling designs. Public Opin Quart, 66, 321–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Walsh, C., MacMillan, H., & Jamieson, E. (2002). The relationship between parental psychiatric disorder and child physical and sexual abuse: findings from the Ontario health supplement. Child Abuse & Neglect, 26(1), 11–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Weafer, J., & Fillmore, M. (2012). Comparison of alcohol impairment of behavioral and attentional inhibition. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 126(1–2), 176–182.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  54. Wells, M. B., & Sarkadi, A. (2012). Do father-friendly policies promote father-friendly child-rearing practices? A review of Swedish parental leave and child health centers. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 21, 25–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wittman, F. D. (2012). Restaurants that “morph” into bars and nightclubs in California communities: What’s the problem and what can be done about it? Santa Rosa, CA: Center for Applied Research Solutions.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Social WorkCalifornia State University, SacramentoSacramentoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Social WelfareUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations