Date of Award


Degree Type


First Advisor

Shannon Self-Brown, Ph.D

Second Advisor

Betty Lai, Ph.D

Third Advisor

Melissa Osborne, MPH


Child maltreatment is classified as the abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual) or neglect of a minor (Center for Disease and Control [CDC], 2015). The number of child maltreatment victims has fluctuated over the past five years, with recent reports indicating an estimate of 683,000 victims in 2015, an increase of 3.8% since 2011 (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2017). Low-quality parent-child interactions throughout childhood has been identified as having a significant negative impact on a child’s developmental outcomes thus children who have high-quality interactions with their caregivers are less likely to be victims of child maltreatment (Landry, Smith, Swank, & Guttentag, 2008). Few studies focus solely on fathers and their interactions with their children, especially in populations at higher risk for perpetuating child maltreatment despite fathers being recognized as having an important role in their child’s social and behavioral development (Scourfield, 2014). SafeCare, an evidence-based program tested mostly with mothers, addresses target skills across child activities and behavior management, has shown to be effective in reducing physical abuse and neglect in children aged 0-5 (Chaffin et al., 2013). This study is a secondary data analysis from an NIH-funded project conducted between 2013 and 2016 (see Self-Brown et al., 2015). As a means of preventing child maltreatment, we focus on improving the quality of interactions children have with their fathers by targeting specific teachable skills. This study focused specifically on the analysis of an observational measure of father-child interaction to examine whether the Parent-Child Interaction skills of father-child dyads in the intervention group fathers improve after participation in SafeCare compared to the control group fathers. This hypothesis was not supported, likely due to limited power, given the poor participation of study participants in this observational measure.