March 16, 2012 / Safety

Exploiting Wisconsin’s Children


The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.

A quick note to Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman, who wants to pass legislation conflating single motherhood with child abuse: Stay away from the kids!

No, really. It’s not just that you’re wrong about this, and that further stigmatizing divorce and single-parenthood may actually make it harder for families to split from abusers. It’s that you’re willfully ignoring evidence about what HURTS CHILDREN in order to score political points.  I don’t care who does that, or what party they belong to, as an action it is morally reprehensible.

We have people who study child welfare full-time, who have decades of expertise. We have, in fact, a wealth of information about the plague of child abuse and neglect. And nowhere in that morass of correlational data that we have been amassing and analyzing for a very long time now is a clear statement that single parenthood causes child abuse. We know that women make up the bulk of single parents.

We know that the sex of child abusers is roughly half and half, but that this is highly dependent on type of abuse. For instance, we know that the vast majority of sexual abuse of girls is perpetrated by male relatives. We know that in families where children are abused, it is common that intimate partner violence is also occurring.

In short, what we know about child abuse is ugly and complicated, and we have no evidence suggesting that it would be particularly helped by pompous proclamations shoehorned into law intended to propagate bias against single parent families in order to transparently bolster “traditional marriage.”

The information we have here is not causal. The fact that we know that grandfathers abuse children, that teachers abuse children, that judges abuse children, that Scout Masters abuse children, is not an indictment of grandfathers, teachers, judges, or Scouting.

What we have is purely correlational, and we should not overgeneralize these findings for political gain at the expense of children. After all, we have ample correlational data that sexistopportunisticblowhards are eventually forced to change their ways as the tides of public opinion turn on them.

But we can’t know for sure that’s what will happen to you. We’ll have to wait, and observe, and gather evidence to find that out for certain.

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