Mothers are more likely than fathers to neglect and emotionally and physically abuse their children, information obtained under freedom of information laws reveals.

But figures from the WA Department for Child Protection show substantiated cases of child sexual abuse against fathers still far outnumber those against mothers.

The data shows that parents were the perpetrators in almost 39 per cent of the 1505 substantiated cases of child abuse in 2007-08. Of the 582 cases of abuse by parents, mothers were responsible for 73 per cent, while fathers committed 27 per cent.

Mothers were more than 17 times more likely than fathers to neglect their children, while fathers were responsible for 85 per cent of sex abuse cases against children.

Mothers carried out almost 68 per cent of cases of emotional and psychological abuse committed by parents, about 53 per cent of physical abuse and more than 94 per cent of neglect cases.

Cases of substantiated abuse jumped from 960 in 2005-06 to 1505 in 2007-08. In 2005-06, mothers committed 312 cases, while fathers were responsible for 165.

In 2005-06, mothers were responsible for 161 neglect, 72 emotional and psychological, 76 physical and three sexual abuse cases against their children. In the same financial year, fathers were responsible for 37 neglect, 41 emotional and psychological, 65 physical and 22 sexual abuse cases against their children.

A DCP spokesman said figures between years were not comparable because measuring methodologies may have changed.

Of the total substantiated cases of abuse in 2007-08, including by parents and where the gender of the perpetrator was determined, 463 were carried out by women and 353 by men.

University of Western Sydney academic Micheal Woods said yesterday that the statistics debunked the myth that fathers posed the greatest risk to their children.

Mr Woods, co-director of the university's Men's Health Information and Resource Centre, said if similar data was available in other States it would show similar trends.

Adults Surviving Child Abuse WA spokeswoman Michelle Stubbs said an initial look at the data did not present a clear explanation and other factors had to be considered.

She said it was important to keep in mind that mothers were often the primary caregivers for children and also may be held more responsible by the department in neglect cases.

The West Australian

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