CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Child Abuse and Family Structure

Jul 21, 2009

Some recent high-profile cases of abused children have once again highlighted the very real problem of child abuse. Any time a child is abused it is a tragedy. Unfortunately often the response by governments is to address the symptoms instead of concentrating on the causes and dealing with prevention.

Thus there are renewed calls for various types of mandatory reporting, more emphasis on how to identify abuse, and so on. These may have their place, but the real solution would be to reduce the incidence of abuse in the first place. Targeting the causes is crucial here.

And contrary to the thinking of many of our sociologists, bureaucrats, government officials, and ruling elites, family structure really does matter in this regard. That is, not all types of family structure are the same, and some are more likely to result in child abuse than others.

Indeed, the evidence clearly indicates that children are at greatest risk of child abuse when not living in natural two-parent families, but in other family structures, such as blended families, single-parent families, step-families, and so on. The evidence for this has been accumulating for decades now. Here is a small sampling of such data.

As one study found, “the risk of abuse and neglect is likely to be exacerbated where substitute individuals fill the roles of biological parents.” A study by two Canadian professors of psychology found that when all the variables of class and maternal age are accounted for, “preschoolers in stepparent-natural parent homes . . . are estimated to be 40 times as likely to become abuse statistics as like-aged children living with two natural parents.”

These professors argue that from an evolutionary point of view, no one can or will ever love a child as the genetic parents will. Therefore we can expect less love and commitment shown to a child by a step-parent. They put it this way: “Having a step-parent has turned out to be the most powerful epidemiological risk factor for severe child maltreatment yet discovered.” Indeed, they claim that the risk of child abuse and child murder is 100 times greater in a step-parent family than in a genetic family.

In one major study of child abuses cases in which there were children of a previous marriage, it was observed that only step-children were abused and not the natural children. A 1994 study of 52,000 children found that those who are most at risk of being abused are those who are not living with both parents. A Finnish study of nearly 4,000 ninth-grade girls found that “stepfather-daughter incest was about 15 times as common as father-daughter incest”.

Or again, it has been found that children in single-parent households are especially vulnerable to abuse, often at the hands of their mother’s boyfriends. In Australia, former Human Rights Commissioner Brian Burdekin has reported a 500 to 600 per cent increase in sexual abuse of girls in families where the adult male was not the natural father.

The Australian Institute of Criminology notes that infants under the age of 12 months are the population group at highest risk of being murdered, and the most likely killer of a child is his or her non-biological father – “in other words, the mother’s new partner.” Furthermore, a study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that children of single mothers are three times more likely to suffer physical or emotional abuse.

Another study by the AIHW found that more cases of child abuse involved children from single parent families (39%) than families with two natural parents (30%) or other two-parent families (such as families with a step-parent) (21%). Of neglect cases, 47% involved children from female single parent families compared with 26% from families with two natural parents. More recent Australian research has found that the typical child murderer is a young man in a de facto relationship with the victim’s mother.

A study of 1998-1999 Victorian child abuse victims found that 45 per cent lived with single parents. The report, by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, found that children who lived in natural two-parent families had a relatively low risk of abuse. And a more recent report from the same Institute entitled Child Protection Australia 1999-2000 reveals that children are most likely to be neglected or abused in single-parent families. It found that the ACT has the highest rate of maltreatment of children from female one-parent families (47 per cent), compared with 29 per cent in two-parent natural families and 18 per cent in step families or blended families.

And a newer report from the same body found that “a relatively high proportion of substantiations [of child abuse] involved children living in female-headed one-parent families and in two-parent step or blended families.”

And an Australian study of 900 coronial inquiries into child deaths found that children were far safer with their biological parents than with step-parents or no biological parents. A study conducted by Deakin University found that children living with a step-parent were 17 to 77 times more likely to die from intentional violence or accident.

Also, cohabitation is more dangerous for children than is marriage. A U.S. Justice Department study found that a cohabiting woman is 56 times more likely than a wife to be assaulted. And another study found that “cohabitors are more likely to experience violence than are single or marrieds.” It also found that “those males who had cohabited displayed the most accepting views of rape”.

American sociologist David Blankenhorn summarises by saying that a “child is sexually safer with her father than with any other man, from a stepfather to her mother’s boyfriend to guys in the neighborhood. She is also safer with a father than without one. A child in a fatherless home faces a significantly higher risk of sexual abuse.”

There is much more data on this issue which can be cited. But the evidence is overwhelming: if we want to get serious about preventing child abuse, then we should stop peddling the myth that all family structures are equal. They are not.

Sure, there are some children who are abused by their biological parents. But it seems they are in the clear minority. So if we want to turn around high rates of child abuse, then we should do far more to support, nurture and champion the biological two-parent family.

[1059 words]

23 Responses to Child Abuse and Family Structure

  • Bill, the statistics in the following sentence seem to run counter to the trend elsewhere.

    “It found that the ACT has the highest rate of maltreatment of children from female one-parent families (47 per cent), compared with 29 per cent in two-parent natural families and 18 per cent in step families or blended families.”

    Should that be; 29per cent in step families or blended families and 18 per cent in two-parent natural families.

    John Nelson

  • Bill, how do you respond to people like Bettina Arndt who would say they support the biological two-parent family yet say that aborting children who are born outside of this family structure is the solution in minimising these undesirable circumstances? (an earnest enquiry hoping for the right answer).

    F. Trpimir Kesina

  • Thanks John

    On occasion the statistics do vary here. But I will try to dig up that stat and see if perhaps I did accidently turn things around.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Trpimir

    Well in one sense abortion is the answer to every social problem we face, be it murder, racism, bigotry or arson. If we simply kill everyone off before they are allowed to be born, then there will be no social problems, because there will be no society. But that is clearly not the answer.

    And abortion would seem to compound the problem of child abuse. In the same period that abortion has increased, so too has child abuse. Indeed, one can argue that the abortion culture leads to the child abuse culture. As Maggie Gallagher has expressed it, “The ethic of the child-batterer is the abortion ethic. Child abusers, like abortion activists, believe in adults’ right to be in control of their lives. Child abusers, like abortionists, believe that only children who gratify parental desires have a right to exist. It is hard to believe that the cultural message contained in abortion, the insistent eulogies to control, and the references to parenting as a right and a pleasure have not contributed to the explosion in child abuse and neglect.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thankyou, that was an excellent article and I agree, removing children from their natural born, mother-father family structure is potentialy putting children at risk. Particularily in the day and age we live in where gay/lesbians are seeking to have the rights to foster and adopt children.

    This minority group of people are living a lifestyle that is at high risk to children and of abusing children. The evidence indicates that homosexual men molest boys at rates grossly disproportionate to the rates at which heterosexual men molest girls. A tiny percentage of the population (homosexual men), commit one-third or more of the cases of child sexual molestation. Homosexual pedophiles sexually molest children at a far greater rate compared to the percentage of homosexuals in the general population.

    Plus placing a child into a same sex “family” is placing that child into a very distructive lifestyle. Studies concluded that 43 percent of male homosexuals have more than 500 partners in their lifetime. A smaller percentage had over 1000. The average life span of a married man is 65 compared to a homosexual life span of 40 years of age. Thus, the wonderful same-sex “family” image we are fed is largely a myth.

    familyresearchinst found that sodomites “…were 116 times more apt to be murdered; 24 times more apt to commit suicide; and had a traffic-accident death-rate 18 times the rate of comparably aged white males. Heart attacks, cancer and liver failure were exceptionally common. Twenty percent of lesbians died of murder, suicide, or accident—a rate 487 times higher than that of white females aged 25-44.”

    http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/DaileyHomosexualAbuse.htm

    Psalm 26:5: I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked.

    Donna Opie

  • I have read of these statistics and correlations before. The causes of child abuse lie in the personality pathologies of adults, not family structure per se which is the medium, and a more magnifying medium in some forms than others as you have correctly described. Whether one’s personality is healthy or not, the buck stops there as we are all moral agents. Some forms of family arrangement, such as de facto heterosexual or a menagerie of bisexuals, probably attract more people with personality problems and therefore generate higher rates of abuse. What aggravates the problem overall are Western governments subverting traditional and more reliable family structure by encouraging and legally recognising shonky alternatives in the mistaken view that what is done in private has no adverse public consequences.

    While on the subject of child abuse, I have read that homosexual men have much higher levels of being abused as children than heterosexual men. Unfortunately I can’t remember the source or if the research was replicated. If true, it’s an interesting correlation that needs to be explained.

    John Snowden

  • Thanks for the feedback Bill, much appreciated.
    F.T. Kesina

  • Bill – Can you give us a complete reference/link to the Maggie Gallagher quote you give on 21.7.09 / 1pm? I’d like to add it to the Quotes page of my website.
    John Thomas, UK

  • Thanks John

    It is: Maggie Gallagher, Enemies of Eros. Bonus Books, 1989, pp. 238-239.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • A shorter response to the Bettina Arndt position on abortion mentioned above would be to point out that abortion is the ultimate child abuse!

    Ewan McDonald.

  • To John Snowden, I thought it was fairly well documented that being abused as children is a major contributing factor in both men and women becoming homosexual. Perhaps Bill can provide some sources?

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Thanks Ewan

    Yes much research has verified this fact. As but one example, a major review of the child molestation literature as it appears in medical and psychological journals concluded that between 25 and 40 per cent of all recorded child molestation was homosexual in nature.

    And Donna above provides a link to a helpful research article on all this.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Our MPs must be complete idiots if they can’t see the obvious. What do they do all day. Drink tea and play pool? Oh, I know. Think up a bag of lies (spin) to hide reality.

    When statistics like these are ignored, we don’t have a democracy we have an oligarchy and the few are politicians featheirng their nests and homos who are dedicated to producing a society in their own image.

    Bill, your article should be sent to every MP and ask for their comment on the issue. That way we will find out who the morons are.

    Let me assure everyone that I say all this in love, for the children that are abused.

    Roger Marks

  • Thanks for the reference, Bill.
    John Thomas, UK

  • In Ireland there has recently been exposed the mass, systemic abuse by catholic priests and nuns of children. Colm OGorman who was a victim of one, father Fortune, recounts his terrifying ordeal at the hands of this paedophile, in his book, Beyond Belief. The article below describes the classic root for a child being “nurtured” to becoming orientated to same gender sex. What is tragic is that although OGorman rails against the injustice that he had to put up with, he is himself a “homosexual” and becomes incandescent with rage if anyone associates higher incidence of paedophilia with “homosexuals.”

    No wonder, for in the article below it says “In the years since, O’Gorman’s life has moved on. He has been with his partner, Paul, for 10 years now. He is legal guardian of two children, aged 12 and 10, after their mother, a close friend, died.”

    http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/spectrum/Colm-OGorman-interview-Conspiracy-of.5249706.jp

    David Skinner, UK

  • Ewan: “To John Snowden, I thought it was fairly well documented that being abused as children is a major contributing factor in both men and women becoming homosexual. Perhaps Bill can provide some sources?”

    All we have is a striking correlation that needs explaining. Correlation is not causality. A posssibility is that most of the victims were effeminate as children and as such unduly attracted the attentions of homosexual molesters. Not all effeminate boys turn out to be homosexual, of course. Another possibility is that the boys tended to have passive personality styles, or were perceived as such, passivity being a stereotyped feminine trait. If you say that molestation in childhood is causally linked to homosexuality in adulthood then you have to explain why some molestations do not have that outcome.

    Another interesting fact that needs explaining is that the ratio of homosexual males in societies tends to be only a few percent and is always higher than the female rate (roughly twice). If this is constant cross-culturally in general populations then a genetic or biological explanation becomes plausible. You might wish to conduct a thought experiment where you imagine different societies with progressively higher levels of exclusive homosexuality. Clearly at some point society would cease to be viable. Perhaps there are hidden biological factors keeping ratios down to limits Nature finds tolerable. Personally I think biology rules our personalities and our social structure more than most folk care to imagine.

    Finally, I would like to say that I am dissatisfied with most discussions of the subject. Hardly anyone is prepared to analyse the sexual behavioural repertoire and determine the causes, functions and personality correlates. Instead all we get is sanitised, abstract, distancing talk about rights and identity.

    John Snowden

  • Thank you David Skinner, you have hit the nail on the head: “becomes incandescent with rage if anyone associates higher incidence of paedophilia with ‘homosexuals’.”

    I myself have been abused and libelled for suggesting that connection. Yet the evidence is there, in public. NAMBLA representatives have marched in Gay “Pride” parades, for example, with the approval of the organisers. The evidence goes on and on. Years ago while browsing in a bookstore I found a guide to gay Amsterdam that explicitly advertised where to find boys. I have seen a homosexual journal that approvingly advertised the works of the Dutch paedophile advocate Brongersma.

    John Snowden

  • John Snowdon, I don‘t know if you read my link above to the story of Colm Ogorman, but he in his own words describes the classic route to being oriented towards same sex attraction. I would say it was a blue print.
    However, coming at it from a biological route, just in the same way that all of us, due to our temperaments, and yes, perhaps our genetic make-ups are more prone to certain weaknesses than others, there may well be a case for saying it is also nature as well as nurture. For instance I have heard that some people have become alcoholic almost from the first time they tasted alcohol. Whereas for others, no matter how much they might imbibe, it does not result in addiction. The fact is that we all have our weaknesses and susceptibilities, in the same way we all have our strengths, which obviously must be something to do with our genetic make-up. Whatever, we do not encourage alcoholics just because it is their nature. They need to get healed.

    David Skinner, UK

  • I imagine that those who contribute to this website are not representative of the mostly gullible public who swallow the knee jerk bandaid solutions which the Government will offer. I suspect that our political leaders are not as stupid as they appear to be but simply pragmatic. What politician in their right mind will stand up and say that the solution to social problems such as this might take generations to resolve, even if the political will can be found. In this world of instant gratification they must at least appear to be doing something and this becomes more apparent as we get closer to election time. The vast majority of the general public have very short memories and cannot connecting events that took place decades ago manifesting as today’s problems, for which we now reap the bitter harvest. Sadly, there is no “quick fix”.
    Peter Coventry

  • Bill – Can you give us a complete reference/link to this study.

    As one study found, “the risk of abuse and neglect is likely to be exacerbated where substitute individuals fill the roles of biological parents.” A study by two Canadian professors of psychology found that when all the variables of class and maternal age are accounted for, “preschoolers in stepparent-natural parent homes . . . are estimated to be 40 times as likely to become abuse statistics as like-aged children living with two natural parents.”

    These professors argue that from an evolutionary point of view, no one can or will ever love a child as the genetic parents will. Therefore we can expect less love and commitment shown to a child by a stepparent. They put it this way: “Having a stepparent has turned out to be the most powerful epidemiological risk factor for severe child maltreatment yet discovered.” Indeed, they claim that the risk of child abuse and child murder is 100 times greater in a step-parent family than in a genetic family.

    Cliff Hoelz

  • Thanks Cliff

    It is this:

    Daly, Martin and Wilson, Margo, “Discriminative Parental Solicitude: A Biological Perspective” Journal of Marriage and Family, vol. 46, May 1980.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I was sexually harrassed by my stepfather, but more severely and violently abused by my stepmother. Stepmothers jealousy towards their husbands daughters is phenomenol. And fathers usually sacrifice their daughters in favor of these new wives and their possible new children. Something to consider when discussing shared parenthood?

    Feminists who have campaigned this “equal familystructures” -agenda have obviously forgotten the girls in favor of adult women’s and men’s rights to fulfill their lusts and rights(?) =freedom without responsibility. Not their fault though, but these matters should be discussed honestly and based on facts, just like in this article. Thanks!

  • Thanks Uma. My commenting rules require a full name, but in your case I will make an exception.

Leave a Reply