Once upon a time the American Pitbull Terrier was known as a breed that was good with children, a brave, all American dog that represented a strong, brave nation that wasn't looking for a fight but would stand up for itself if a fight was brought to it.
Petey was as much a part of the gang as Alfalfa and Spanky.
There was no question that this was a breed that not only was trustworthy around children -- this was a child's guardian who would put himself in danger to protect the kids.
Despite the difference in physical type one thing remains consistent between the two types. Both want nothing more than to be with people and to please people. Unfortunately, some people have used this eagerness to please humans to the breed's detriment.
Originally used for bull baiting and in some cases dog fighting, a Staffy can be turned into a dog fighter particularly given inhumane training. And some people do work hard to train these dogs to attack other dogs. Cruelty and starvation and isolation all play a role in this training.
Other handlers are just plain irresponsible and neither train nor handle their dogs. Any breed that is allowed to run wild without handling and training has the possibility to be a fear biter. Bad blood lines can lead to aggressive behavior. And popular media associations between gangsters and pit bulls have really hurt the breed.
Yet these remain dogs that as breeds, want to be with people and please people. They are smart, trainable, love children and if properly trained can be very lovely family dogs. I would recommend either obtaining one through rescue where they have been temperament tested or through a reliable breeder who keeps temperament paramount in their breeding program.
I have known a number of APBT and some AKC Staffies. All have been nice dogs. All have been family dogs that did well with children and other pets. All lived with other animals. I knew one who would get so excited - like many terriers - when playing tug of war that she would eventually reach a point where her handler would give her a five minute cool down period. Some trainers in fact suggest that tug of war is not a good game to play with any bull terrier type breed.