NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Married Women and Their Children Experience Less Violence

May 5, 2004

Married mothers and their children are less likely to be victims of abuse and crime than mothers who are cohabiting or living alone, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey and the Heritage Foundation.

  • Mothers who have never married experience over twice the rate of domestic violence (26.3 per 1,000) than married mothers (12.9 per 1,000).
  • Mothers with children under age 12 who have never married experience more overall violent crime (including rape, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault) than married mothers.
  • In British studies, a child whose mother is cohabiting with someone who is not their biological father is 33 times more likely to suffer child abuse than a child whose biological parents are married.
  • Additionally, British studies show that a child whose mother is cohabiting with someone who is not their biological father is 73 times more likely to die from abuse than a child whose biological parents are married.

Observers argue that government means-tested welfare programs penalize parents who marry by reducing their benefits. Heritage Foundation researchers recommend eliminating the penalty and supporting President Bush's proposal to spend $300 million on promoting marriage, especially among the poor.

Sources: Robert E. Rector, et al., "Marriage: Still the Safest Place for Women and Children," Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder no. 1723, March 9, 2004; and Richard Gelles and Murray A. Straus, "Physical Violence in American Families," National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, National Crime Victimization Survey, Violence Against Women Studies, 1985; Robert Whelan, "Broken Homes and Battered Children," Family Education Trust, 1993.

 

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