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Courts Create Child Abuse

Human Events is a very important publication, read by some of the
most influential people in Washington, including the President, cabinet
members, and members of Congress.  This is their third piece on
fatherhood issues this year.  If you have Republican or conservative
Democratic state and local lawmakers, send them a copy.  They will
understand that our issues are being put on the agenda in Washington.

To see who reads Human Events, go to:

Stephen Baskerville


[Human Events, vol. 58, no. 16, 29 April 2002, p. 14.]

The Truth About Child Abuse

April is "Child Abuse Prevention Month," according to the Department of
Health and Human Services.  Kinaya Sokoya, director of the D.C. Children's
Trust Fund, suggests we use the occasion to "raise the public's awareness"
about child abuse through "public education" and "funding parent-support
programs."  In plain English, what this means is more government programs
of questionable efficacy.

It is not likely we are going to reduce child abuse by "educating" anyone,
especially given the message Ms. Sokoya sends to child abusers:  "In order
to take good care of your child, you must take good care of yourself."

The public is already aware that we are in an epidemic of child abuse.
Less widely known but still well understood among researchers is what
causes it.  What we lack is the resolve to face the politically incorrect truth.

The massive growth of child abuse coincides directly with the divorce
revolution and fatherless homes.  As Sokoya tacitly acknowledges, child
abuse takes place overwhelmingly in the homes and at the hands of single

A study just released by the Heritage Foundation confirms that children are
up to 33 times more likely to be abused in a single-parent home than in an
intact family.  "Contrary to public perception," write Patrick Fagan and
Dorothy Hanks, "research shows that the most likely physical abuser of a
young child will be that child's mother, not a male in the household."  A
1996 HHS study found that "almost two-thirds [of child abusers] were
females," and mothers accounted for 55% of child murders according to a
1994 Justice Department report.

As Maggie Gallagher writes in her 1996 book, The Abolition of Marriage:
"The person most likely to abuse a child physically is a single mother.
The person most likely to abuse a child sexually is the mother's boyfriend or
second husband. . . .   Divorce, though usually portrayed as a protection
against domestic violence, is far more frequently a contributing cause."

The only thing unusual in the sensational case of Andrea Yates is that the
couple remained married.  Most child abusers first eliminate the father
through unilateral divorce or separation, whereupon they can abuse his
children with impunity.

As the Heritage report confirms, the safest place for a child is an intact,
two-parent home - that is, a home with a father in it.  Children's natural
protectors are their fathers.  Even feminist Adrienne Burgess observes
that "fathers have often played the protector role inside families."
Removing the father is what exposes the children to danger.

Yet removing fathers is precisely what family court judges routinely do at
the mere request of mothers, who file two-thirds to nine-tenths of divorces.
Ironically, this is often effected with trumped-up charges of child abuse,
though statistically biological fathers seldom abuse their children (6.5% of
child murders, according to the DOJ study).  Judges claim they remove the
father, even when no evidence of abuse has occurred, to "err on the side of
caution."  In fact they are erring on the side of danger, and it is difficult to
believe they do not realize it.

Dickens observed "the one great principle of the . . . law is to make
business for itself."  In this instance, family courts and child protective
bureaucracies make business for themselves by eliminating the father from
the home, thus creating the environment conducive to abused children.
Appalling as it sounds, the conclusion seems inescapable that we have
created a massive governmental machine staffed by officials with a vested
professional interest in abused children.

This is a shocking statement, but it proceeds predictably from the logic
inherent to all bureaucracies: to perpetuate the problem they ostensibly
exist to address.

The logic is marvelously self-justifying and self-perpetuating, since by
eliminating the father, government officials can then present themselves
as the solution to the problem they themselves create.  The more child
abuse - whether by parents or even by the social work bureaucracies
themselves - the more the proffered solution is to further expand the child
abuse bureaucracy.  Waxing indignant about a string of child deaths at the
hands of social workers in the District of Columbia, federal judges and the
Washington Post find solace in the D.C. government's solution: hire more
social workers (and lawyers too for some unspecified reason).  "Olivia
Golden, the Child and Family Services' latest director . . . will use her
increased budget to recruit more social workers and double the number of
lawyers."  Lawyers, not fathers, now protect children.

If we do not have the courage to tell the truth about who is abusing
children and the role of government in permitting and even encouraging
them to do it, then all our professed concern for children is mere posturing.
We do no service to children or to public awareness by funding groups and
programs with an interest in obscuring the truth and exacerbating the

Dr. Baskerville is professor of political science at Howard University.

[Also posted at MND as:  "The Truth About Child Abuse"
by Stephen Baskerville -- MND, 10 May 02]


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