The Cinderella effect
is a term used by psychologists
to describe the high incidence of stepchildren being physically abused
, emotionally abused
, sexually abused
, or otherwise mistreated at the hands of their stepparents
at significantly higher rates than at the hands of their genetic parents. It takes its name from the fairy tale
, who in the story was cruelly mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters.
The effect has been called "one of the poster-children of evolutionary psychology
—a review of Stephen Pinker
's The Blank Slate
In the early 1970s, a theory arose on the connection between stepparents and child maltreatment
. "In 1973, forensic psychiatrist P. D. Scott summarized information on a sample of 'fatal battered-baby cases’ perpetrated in anger (…) 15 of the 29 killers – 52% – were stepfathers." Although initially there was no analysis of this raw data, empirical evidence has since been collected on what is now called the Cinderella effect
through official records, reports, and census.
For over 30 years, data has been collected regarding the validity of the Cinderella effect, with a wealth of evidence indicating a direct relationship between step-relationships and abuse. This evidence of child abuse
comes from a variety of sources including official... Read More