So how do you make the growing problem of child abuse in custodial father households disappear from public policy discussions and awareness?
It's easy! And here's how you do it.
Just stop reporting it! No information on father-headed households for us, please. Just lump the data in another category and make all those potentially unpleasant and politically embarassing statistics on child abuse in father-headed households go away. Flush all those numbers on abusive daddies down the toilet of data oblivion where no numbers can possibly be retrieved, at least not without a major (and rather messy and difficult) endeavor. Yes, invisibility rules!
This is exactly what has happened with the new Fourth National Incidence of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4), which was released last month (January 2010).
Link is here:
After slowly scrolling through the new NIS-4, I noticed that the household categories under which they report abuse are as follows:
Married, Both Biological (this reflects the new cultural obsession with parents who are not only married, but share DNA with the child)
Other Married Parents (presumably targets families with stepparents)
Unmarried Parents (presumably co-habitating parents, where both parents are biologically related to the child)
Single Parent with Partner (apparently includes both single fathers AND single mothers with unmarried partners who are not biologically related to the child in one humongous category)
Single parent, No Partner (Self-Explanatory--Both custodial fathers AND mothers)
Neither parent (foster care, grandparents, and the like)
Well, we can't track any differences between custodial father and custodial mother households with these data classifications, can we? I'm sure the enemies of single mothers will use the inflated child abuse statistics on "single parent with partner" (there's that nasty boyfriend!) or "single parent, no partner" to mean MOTHERS even though it doesn't say mothers. But we'll just assume it means mothers, shall we?
These categories are BRAND NEW and reflect a radical shift in the preferred "prisms" for viewing household data, though I didn't see this acknowledged anywhere.
Note that the 2000 US Census used the following categories for reporting data on families with children:
Of course, the old Census categories don't reflect the new cultural obsession with married couples where both parents are biologically related to the child. And, admittedly, the Census categories were sloppy about parents that lived together and where they were classified. Or who had a partner in the home, unrelated to the child, and how that affected the family dynamic, as opposed to the truly "single." But at least the old categories recognized that children are generally in the custody of a parent, and if those parents are not "together," they are usually with a father or a mother. Now this fact has vanished like so much smoke.
The Third National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-3), which was released in September 1996, reported household data for married couples (no real interest here in distinguishing between parents and stepparent households), father-only households, and mother-only households.
And what did NIS-3 say? In their on-line Executive Summary, they tersely acknowledge the following, but with little elaboration:
"Among children in single-parent households, those living with only their fathers were approximately one and two-thirds times more likely to be physically abused than those living with only their mothers."
You can find the quote here:
Well even back in 1996, we didn't like to talk about it much, so that's about all we had to say about the matter in the Executive Summary. If you wanted to know more, you had to get a hard copy of the report, which, of course, hardly anybody in the general public had access to. But I got a copy of it last fall, and reported the results here:
Needless to say, father households had significantly worse abuse outcomes than married couple households and mother households. But you had to get your hands on the actual paper to find this out. Couldn't find it out on-line. Nope, too easy for the information to fall into the "wrong hands," you know.
So congratulations, NIS-4. No abusive custodial dads here. We don't count 'em. They don't exist. Now move along, please. There's nothing to see.