Abusegate and Children

President Obama's 2011 federal budget, a nearly $4-trillion monstrosity, includes an increase of $117 million for domestic violence programs -- a 22-percent increase. It is time to shine the light of truth on so-called "domestic violence" issues. Instead of  "spousal abuse," the broader term "domestic violence" provides cover for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to spawn widespread distortion of data that is used for political ammunition to hold taxpayers hostage to the VAWA Mafia -- all those bureaucrats and social workers whose existence depends upon convincing the public that husbands are dangerous to their wives and children. In fact, the mothers' boyfriends are most often the perpetrators of abuse deaths, and mothers are more often responsible for the neglect fatalities.

In fact, many of the experts in the area of abuse against women and children report that VAWA advocates have been pushing a slated message for more than two decades, an agenda that is detrimental to the traditional family and destructive of the Constitution. Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to refer to the "VAWA Mafia" because the Violence Against Women Act does little to protect women or children. Instead, it wastes money (over $1 billion a year) and propagates false information.

Let's be clear: Violence against women and children is a heinous act. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that every year in the United States, there are over 3 million referrals of child abuse that involve "the alleged maltreatment of approximately 6 million children." Who does not recoil when innocence is stolen, whether in one awful trauma or through persistent, unrelenting acts of neglect, anger, sexual dominance, or vengeance?

However, what is often overlooked is the central role that family structure plays when it comes to incidents of violence against women and children. While the majority of American children move through the stages of childhood in a secure environment where they are both loved and protected, increasing numbers of children live in household arrangements where they are neglected and abused rather than cherished. Millions of children learn early that they rate a distant second or third in priority behind drugs and/or their mothers' boyfriends.

Little wonder that many children live in fear of what might happen to them next when there is a rotating cycle of boyfriends moving in with their mothers. Their family instability, lack of supervision, and desperate conditions keep them from having the happy childhood that we would wish for all children; worse, their childhood mistreatment threatens their future, and indeed, their health and life. At the same time that our nation has improved so many living conditions for Americans across the board, we have produced a culture that is injurious to our women and children. It is virtually impossible for society to protect our nation's children from the conditions resulting from the sexual revolution and the breakdown of the family.

The sad reality is that we are spinning our wheels as a nation in trying to keep up with the problems of children who are denied the presence and protection of mature, concerned fathers. The latest figures show that federal spending on children is now 15.4 percent of the total federal domestic spending, yet UNICEF ranks the United States 20th in children's well-being among the twenty-one richest democracies in the world. How many more children will be abused before we acknowledge that the investment America needs to make for the nation's children is to encourage marriage? A married father-mother home is the safest and most nurturing place for the nation's children.

The latest National Incidence of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-3) reveals a 67-percent increase in the incidence of child maltreatment since 1986 and a 149-percent increase since 1980. The NIS-3 reports, not surprisingly, that children of single parents were "overrepresented" compared to their counterparts living with both parents. While predators may target any child, the data is overwhelming: The safest place for a child is with his or her married mother and father. All other household arrangements carry a higher risk of abuse and neglect.

  • Abuse is six times higher in stepfamilies than in intact families.
  • Abuse is fourteen times higher in a single-mother family than in intact families.
  • Abuse is twenty times higher with cohabiting parents than in an intact family.
  • Abuse is thirty-three times higher with cohabiting partners than in an intact family.

These unstable cohabiting households are dangerous places for children. The United States leads the developed nations in the number of child maltreatment deaths. The child abuse death rate for American children is three times higher than Canada's, is higher than Japan's, Germany's, France's, the United Kingdom's, and is eleven times higher than Italy's.

Households that are poor owing to patterns of dysfunctional behavior (particularly where alcohol and drugs are abused) are dangerous places for children. Doubtless this finding is influenced by the fact that more than three out of five poor families with children are headed by single women, and when they cohabitate, their children are at risk by the presence of a adult male with whom they have no biological relationship but with whom the children compete for the mother's time and affection. Abuse, however, can occur across the economic and social spectrum; it is not limited to the poorest families.

Herbert Ward pithily said, "Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime." We all need to shine lights of truth into the shadows. We need to work to bring dads back into families so that the nation's children will be protected now, and equally important, will be enabled to realize their potential as they move forward toward a bright future.

This article is based on a chapter in Janice Crouse's just-released book, Children At Risk.