Monday, March 9, 2015

Stepchildren at Risk: the Cinderella Effect

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

A step-daughter or step-son is about 100 times more likely to suffer child abuse or even murder than is a child who is the offspring of the two parents. This shocking statistic holds pretty much around the world and can best be explained by the tendency of parents to further the well-being of those related to them genetically, in line with the premises of sociobiology and evolution.

The hundred-fold increase in child abuse associated with step-parenting has been a major theme of the research work done by Professors Martin Daly and the late Margo Wilson. They presented their work in their 1998 book, The Truth about Cinderella, and defended its genetic / evolutionary arguments at length in a review article [Daly and Wilson, 2008].

With more divorces and separations, spouses are being replaced by stepparents and "lovers," putting children at greater risk.


Daly M. & Wilson M. (2008) Is the “Cinderella effect” controversial? A case study of evolution-minded research and critiques thereof. Pp. 381-398 in C.B. Crawford & D. Krebs, eds., Foundations of Evolutionary Psychology. Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum


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