More than 60% of child abuse occurs within families, and biological parents are the main culprits, according to a study of almost 2,000 incidents by KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore.

The affected children were all taken to the hospital emergency unit for treatment between June 2011 and May 2016, Lianhe Wanbao (Singapore) reported, with their injuries inflicted by peers, caregivers or their guardians. There were 1,917 cases of non-accidental injuries in this period.

Investigations revealed that biological fathers were responsible for 37% of abuse cases and biological mothers 28%, with half of these parents classed as repeat offenders. Stepfathers and foreign domestic workers accounted for 8% and 6% respectively of child abuse cases.

While men were often perceived as being the most likely to abuse children, the public should not overlook the possibility that violence was also being applied by women, possibly with worse consequences, said Dr Peter Wong Choong Yi, a consultant from the Department of Emergency Medicine.

This was because mothers often were slower to seek treatment for their children. According to the hospital statistics, 16% of children beaten by their fathers received medical attention within five hours, but only 7% of those ill-treated by their mother.

Around 40% of all abuse victims were taken to the hospital within 24 hours of being abused, but in one case it was 30 days before a child was treated.