Saturday, July 12, 2008

6. Queensland clinical psychologist: "Research showed male children suffered more physical abuse at the hands of their mothers"

Queensland clinical psychologist Dr Narelle Dawson said research showed male children suffered more physical abuse at the hands of their mothers. 'Boys beaten by their mothers are prone to a life of dysfunctional relationships with women or a sense of enduring unhappiness or prolonged periods of sadness. "If you stop mothers beating boys, you will grow less angry male children, less angry adult men, have less domestic violence (and) less child abuse." She said further studies into the long-term consequences of female violence towards male children were needed to end the "conspiracy of silence on the emerging evidence around women who grow angry, abusive males".

Mums worse in smacking stakes

Australia - BrisbaneTimes - Queensland - Marissa Calligeros | July 9, 2008 - 5:00AM

Mothers are worse than fathers when it comes to physically abusing their children, and are more likely to create a cycle of abuse that sees boys grow into violent men, one expert says.

While historical research has suggested young males learned abusive behaviour from their father-figure, Queensland clinical psychologist Dr Narelle Dawson said research showed male children suffered more physical abuse at the hands of their mothers.

"Boys beaten by their mothers are prone to a life of dysfunctional relationships with women or a sense of enduring unhappiness or prolonged periods of sadness," Dr Dawson said.

"If you stop mothers beating boys, you will grow less angry male children, less angry adult men, have less domestic violence (and) less child abuse."

Dr Dawson's doctorate research into child abuse revealed that more than half of the 2029 children she surveyed were assaulted, 30 per cent of whom went on to make serious suicide attempts in their adolescence.

She said further studies into the long-term consequences of female violence towards male children were needed to end the "conspiracy of silence on the emerging evidence around women who grow angry, abusive males".

Her findings have drawn ire from others working in the field, who have dismissed them as damaging "generalisations".

Dr Dawson has attributed dysfunctional or abusive mother-child relationships to the prevalence of violent behaviour among adult males.

"There is a vicious cycle here that is not being addressed," she said.

"If we want to stop men assaulting women and children we need to ask 'What was their childhood background of abuse?'

"The maternal-child attachment provides a framework for all subsequent relationships that the child will develop ... I therefore suggest you will find violent adult males have suffered an abusive mother."

Australian Association of Social Workers national president Dr Bob Lonne slammed suggestions mothers were commonly responsible for inflicting injury on their sons.

"There is reason to imply that mothers would discipline their children with force more often as they are the primary care givers, but the difference between the rates of abuse by fathers and mothers is marginal," Dr Lonne said.

"It is not wise to make such a generalisation. Physical child abuse occurs for a raft of reasons by both mothers and fathers."

Professor Karen Healy, of the University of Queensland's School of Social Work, said it was uncommon for primary care givers to cause injury leading to death.

"It is important to not to overstate the facts. We do tend to over-represent severe cases of child abuse and fail to recognise that cases are extremely varied," Professor Healy said.

According to Dr Dawson however, more children were killed by their mothers than their fathers, and sons were killed more frequently than daughters in the last decade.

"I can't say that male-to-female violence has decreased, but female-to-male violence has certainly increased," Dr Dawson said.

"And young boys are the victims."

UN slams Queensland loophole

Australia - BrisbaneTimes - Queensland - Life And Style - Marissa Calligeros | July 9, 2008 - 5:00AM

The United Nations has slammed a loophole in Queensland law that allows parents to use "reasonable force" to discipline their children.

Clinical psychologist Dr Narelle Dawson, of the UN's World Children's Issues Committee, called for the immediate abolishment of Section 280 of Queensland's Criminal Code, which allows parents to use force "believed reasonable under the circumstances".

While she believes a "smack on the bottom" may be appropriate, s280 was instead providing an opportunity for parents to justify more physical abuse with the "reasonable force" defence.

Dr Dawson said using excessive force - such as using implements to discipline, or causing marks and bruising - was associated with aberrations in brain development, behavioural dysfunction and psychological illness.

"Maltreatment is a chisel that shapes a brain to contend with strife, but at the cost of deep enduring wounds," Dr Dawson said, saying the current laws deprived children of "better life outcomes".

Similar laws exist in the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.

"It is clear that Australia is currently not meeting its international obligations under the Convention of the Rights of the Child to abolish the legal defence of reasonable chastisement of children by parents," Dr Dawson said.

"Tragically, one single traumatic experience is enough to alter brain function."

According to research advocated by the Concerned Psychologists group, chronic stress to children sensitises neural pathways and over-develops certain regions of the brain involved in anxiety and fear responses, and often results in the under-development of other regions of the brain.

"This chronic stimulation of the brain's fear response means that the regions of the brain involved in this response are frequently activated resulting in hyper-vigilance and chronic anxiety," Dr Dawson said.

"These children (misinterpret) non-verbal cues; eye contact can mean a threat and a friendly touch can be interpreted as an antecedent to violence. The `fear response' often seen in abused children can become permanently switched on.

"With disrupted attachments many of these children will grow to care more about day-to-day survival rather than developing positive interactions and relationships."

Research conducted by the Australian Childhood Foundation revealed 45 per cent of Australians surveyed believed it was "okay" to leave a mark on a child following physical punishment.

One in 10 Australians said it was "okay" to use canes, sticks, belts or slippers to hit a child, while one in seven people admitted to using a wooden spoon as a tool for discipline.

"So where will (we) draw the line at the physical punishment of our Aussie kids?" Dr Dawson said.

"Will you draw the line at a broken arm? Will you draw the line at a bruise?"

The controversial defence of s280 was used to pardon a Gold Coast teacher charged with the alleged assault of a student in Southport Magistrates' Court in February this year.

And two parents accused of tying their four children to a shed with a dog chain, beating them with shearing belts and stinging them with cattle prods, were acquitted of all charges under the Tasmanian equivalent of s280 in 1992.

But Brisbane lawyer Michael Bosscher said abolishing s280 would prevent parents wrongly accused of child abuse from protecting themselves.

"This is a 'balance' law and only allows people to use force under reasonable circumstances. It is absolute nonsense that bruising or injuring a child would ever be considered to be 'reasonable force' under the law,'' Mr Bosscher said.

"Yes, there are cases were a good law is badly applied, but it is a very, very rare day when you could ever justify the assault of child as 'reasonable force','' Mr Bosscher said.

Labor Member for Murrumba Dean Wells has said vulnerable children would continue to suffer abuse if the loophole in Queensland law was not closed.

"The fact is that so long as s280 continues to operate ... the courts are going to have to take into account a parent's belief that chaining children up and whipping them with horsewhips is good for them," Mr Wells said.

Dr Dawson's doctorate research into child abuse revealed that of 30 per cent of 1136 children surveyed, who were subjected to excessive disciplinary force had made serious suicide attempts in their adolescence.

"This (statistic) alone should get governments moving on repealing archaic 'reasonable force' laws," Dr Dawson said.

Narelle Dawson PhD Abstracts PhD Thesis

School of Psychology, Massey University; The School of Psychology at Massey University is situated on three campuses, Albany in Auckland, Turitea in Palmerston North, and Wellington.; August 2006

Narelle Dawson recently, successfully defended her thesis. Narelle’s supervisor was Prof Ian Evans.

A Profile and Longitudinal Evaluation of Multiple Risk Factors, Protective Factors, and Outcomes for Suicidal and non-Suicidal out-of-home Adolescents who Applied for the Independent Youth Benefit (IYB)


This Research contributes new knowledge to those working in the areas of welfare, child and adolescent safety, and suicide prevention. The aim of this thesis was to succinctly provide clinicians, government and community agencies, researchers and policy advisors, with a snapshot profile of 2029 welfare seeking young people who were homeless and frequently discouraged by negative life events. The research aim was to identify risk and protective factors that impact life outcomes for those seeking the Independent Youth Benefit (IYB), and particularly, to scrutinize salient factors that led a vulnerable group of IYB applicants to die by suicide. It was further aimed that by documenting comments from 200 young adults from this population across a span of seven years, both gaps within the IYB process, as well as useful resources, could be identified in order to improve life outcomes for other homeless youth. For those who attempted suicide and survived, file records and interviews have indicated the triggers and life histories that potentially impacted their decision to try to end their pain of life, and factors that influenced survival and recovery.

Four separate studies were included in this thesis. Study 1 profiled 2029 IYB applicants and determined the most potent risks that led to the granting of the IYB. Study 2 revealed the salient factors the related to the suicide of 6 IYB applicants. Study 3 investigated the outcomes for those who were granted or declined a benefit across the variables of education, employment, income, adverse life circumstances, wellbeing, and family relationships. Study 4 examined a psychological construct, termed cynical distrust, which appeared to be a characteristic trait in welfare seeking youth.

Conclusions from this research provided indicators of youth who will usually be granted an IYB, they are, those who report bullying, abuse, parent psychopathology, single parent homes, a parent on benefit and foster placement. Applicants who reported suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts and had contact with Police and Child Youth and Family Services also were more likely to be granted an Independent Youth Benefit (IYB). If the applicants were Maori and had previously seen a counsellor for a mental health problem, they were also more likely to receive the IYB. However, when applicants were referred to Family Reconciliation Counselling (FRC), there was a statistically significant association between benefit application and benefit declined.

A unique finding from this population related to the association of ‘unknown fathers’ with suicide. Absent father literature is now extensive, however, little research has been conducted into the effects of ‘unknown fathers’, particularly for Maori youth who place much of their strength and wellbeing in their genealogy. Other salient factors leading to suicide for IYB applicants included, previous suicide attempt, co-morbid disorder, unresolved anger, no identified caring adult, foster placement and an impending legal or disciplinary event.

Maori males with such factors posed the greatest risk for suicide. Counsellors, psychologists, families and policy analysts need to acknowledge that IYB applicants who attempted suicide, show cynical distrust, and were declined a benefit, had extremely poor life outcomes. The New Zealand youth welfare system could be functioning far more efficiently if documented recommendations become realities.

Risks, protection and outcomes

Ministry of Social Development | - Risks, protection and outcomes – SPEaR – December 2004

Clinical psychologist Narelle Dawson is completing doctoral research which evaluates the risks, protective factors and outcomes for young New Zealanders who have applied for the Independent Youth Benefit (IYB).

A SPEaR scholarship helped fund the research, which is thought to be a first that focuses on outcomes for this group of young people. “No one has ever collected longitudinal data in order to assess the outcomes for youth who apply for financial assistance due to family breakdown,” Narelle said.

The research includes four separate studies. The first is a snapshot of the 2,029 16–18 year olds in Waikato who applied for the IYB between 1995 and 2001. The study identifies adverse life and social risk factors across the cohort. The second study is a retrospective file audit of IYB applicants which analyses risk and resiliency factors that contributed to adolescent suicide and suicide survival. The file records of six deceased IYB applicants are scrutinised against 36 other young applicants whose backgrounds were closely matched to the deceased, but who survived. Narelle said her analysis found seven salient factors that discriminated those who died by suicide from the control group. One factor was that none of the six deceased knew who their fathers were. “That has implications for young Maori in particular, as genealogy is a huge part of their identity. I’ll be looking at the psychological implications for indigenous youth, especially where they are not told the name of their father.”

The third study comprises recent interviews with a group of 200 young people who had applied for the IYB between 1995 and 2001. The quantitative data is categorised into four groups – those who were granted the IYB and attempted suicide; those who were declined the IYB and attempted suicide; those who were granted the IYB and did not attempt suicide; and those who were declined the IYB and did not attempt suicide. “I have also recorded qualitative data from the interviews which will outline both the gaps and the resources which, from the point of view of those interviewed, has been influential in developing either positive or negative life outcomes. We hear the voice of the young people who used the system – what did and did not work for them, and what harmed them and what helped them survive.”

The final study will assess ‘cynical distrust levels’ of 200 adults who were former IYB applicants compared with 330 high school students, to test the hypothesis that those attempting suicide have elevated levels of depression and hostility towards others. The thesis will conclude with recommendations for policy advisers, case managers, schools, parents and caregivers.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

5. Norwegian Female Pedophile Predators go Free and stay in job at Oslo orphanages

Norway Television TV2 - By Eirik Haukenes - 04.12.2007

RECEIVED COMPENSATION: The orphanage child received compensation, but the perpetrator stays in her job. ( TV 2 )

He received NOK 725,000 (EUR 100,000) in compensation after sexual abuse in the orphanage, but the female perpatrator is still working at the orphanage.

For 26 years the former orphanage child kept a horrible secret.

- I was sexually abused from an age of 13 to 15 in a private orphanage that Oslo Municipality was paying for. It happened every night shift, tells the former orphanage child.

Recently he applied for compensation with the Oslo Municipality Compensation Fund for Former Orphanage Children. The board found his detailed statement on sexual abuse credible and proven, and he received NOK 725,000 in compensation from Oslo Municipality.

Sylvi Listhaug, the Oslo City Council Executive Member for Welfare and Social Services from FrP (The Norwegian Right Wing Party) is defending the system of payments in exchange for silence over female pedophile predators operating in Oslo orphanages.

Still at work

But in the same judgement they decided not to press charges against the female pedophile perpetrator who was identified by name.

- She still works at the orphanage making her childvictims. It is horrible that she can abuse other children, he said.

So far 275 Norwegians have been formally found credible and admissable in their reportings of abuse. But nothing is being done to check if the perpetrators identified by name are still working in the system.

- It is not in our task definition and discretion to investigate these matters further, said Berit Rannestad, general secretary of the Oslo Municipality Compensation Fund for Former Orphanage Children to TV 2 News.

Conspiracy of Silence

So although in Norway it is a criminal act by law not to report sexual abuse against children the board keeps the names a secret, and an order of silence is put in place to prohibit them to distribute the names to the proper authorities. This might effect todays orphanage children.

Office of the Oslo Municipality Compensation Fund for Former Orphanage Children who were abused (Vederlagsutvalget - Oslo kommune) in Norway:

Visiting adress: Øvre Slottsgate 2 b, Oslo Centre, Norway.
Postal adress: City Hall, 0037 Oslo, Norway

- Given that the identified perpetrators in fact have committed sexual abuse against children, then the order of silence that is put in place by Oslo Municipality is seriously obstructing the protection of other children in other institutions against these severe abuses, said Dr. jur Elisabeth Gording Stang from the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights.

That is definately not in accordance with the Children’s Rights Convention, which states that abuse shall be adressed and stopped by any and all means immediately.

Defending the system – Payments in exchange for silence

Sylvi Listhaug, the Oslo City Council Executive Member for Welfare and Social Services from FrP (The Norwegian Right Wing Party) is defending the system:

- The Compensation Fund Board is not supposed to have any opinion on the question of guilt. One of the requirements when people are addressing the Compensation Fund is that the information is protected by order of silence, she said to TV 2 News.


FIKK ERSTATNING: Det tidligere barnehjemsbarnet fikk erstatning, men overgriperen fortsetter i jobben. ( TV 2 )

Sjekker ikke gamle overgripere

Han fikk 725.000 kroner i erstatning etter å ha blitt seksuelt misbrukt på barnehjem, men kvinnen som forgrep seg jobber fortsatt på barnehjemmet.

I 26 år holdt det tidligere barnehjemsbarnet på en hemmelighet.

- Jeg ble seksuelt misbrukt fra 13-årsalderen til jeg var 15 på et privat barnehjem som Oslo kommune betalte. Det skjedde på hver nattevakt, forteller det tidligere barnehjemsbarnet.

Nylig tok han kontakt med Oslo kommunes vederlagsordning for tidligere barnehjemsbarn. Utvalget festet lit til hans detaljerte forklaring om de seksuelle overgrepene, og han fikk utbetalt 725.000 kroner.

Jobber fortsatt
Men, den navngitte overgriperen gjorde ikke utvalget noe med.

- Hun jobber fortsatt på barnehjemmet. Det er fælt at hun kan misbruke andre unger, sier han.

Så langt har 275 personer blitt trodd når de har fortalt om overgrep. Men ingenting blir gjort for å sjekke om de navngitte overgriperne fortsatt er i systemet.

- Det ligger utenfor det som er meningen med kartleggingen, sier Berit Rannestad, sekretariatsleder i Vederlagsutvalget i Oslo kommune til TV 2 Nyhetene.

Dermed gjør ikke utvalget noe med navnene, og taushetsplikten forhindrer dem i å gi navnene videre. Det kan gå utover dagens barnehjemsbarn.

- Forutsatt at de navngitte personene som er oppgitt som overgripere faktisk har begått seksuelle overgrep mot barn, så forhindrer den taushetsplikten en mulig beskyttelse av andre barn i institusjoner, sier Dr. juris Elisabeth Gording Stang ved Norsk senter for menneskerettigheter.

Det er et klart brudd på barnekonvensjonen, som sier at man uansett skal forhindre overgrep.

Forsvarer ordningen
Byråd for velferd og sosiale tjenester i Oslo Sylvi Listhaug (Frp) forsvarer ordningen.

- Vederlagsutvalget skal ikke ta stilling til skyldspørsmålet. En av forutsetningene for at folk går til utvalget er at opplysningene er taushetsbelagte, sier hun til TV 2 Nyhetene.

- Det utvalget skal gjøre er å oppfordre de som har navngitte personer om å melde fra til kommunen, slik at vi kan ta affære. Vi ønsker altså ikke at overgripere skal jobbe i Oslo kommune, legger Listhaug til.

04.12.07 21:05, ny 04.12.07 21:49

4. Stolen Children : Kidnappings by the State : The Case of Canada's Residential Schools

The present large scale child abuse by alienation and exclusion of millions of children from their fathers and their half of the children's extended families, while isolating these children in female oneparent ghetto's, as presently perpetrated by all Christian Western "democracies" with their structural cliëntelism in its backrooms of power is - allthough unprecedented in its present criminal scale and extend - at the same time nothing new in the history of these states who have so little respect for the rights of its children and its minorities.

Collective state abuse against children and families by means of parental alienation and exclusion has allways been perpetrated and legitimised "in the best interest of the children" and constitutes a structural part of the history of Christian Western "democracies".

The Case of Canada's Residential Schools: Canada as a collective child abuser by parental alienation

Call them and they were never gone
First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada; 21 juni 2005

Residential Schools

"Our object is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has been absorbed into the body politic."
Duncan Campbell Scott

Europeans thought they could raise our children better than we could - No time to Say Goodbye. Here are the results.

"They encircled reserves to stop runaways and then moved door to door taking school age children over the protest of parents and children themselves. Children were locked up in police stations or cattle pens until the round up was complete."
Bennett and Blackstock, 2002

“What if they squeeze all the Indian out of us? What will be left? What do they want, Howard? We’re Indians. That’s it. That’s what we are”

The last residential school closed in 1996

Canadian Child Welfare Approaches
Fifty years ago mainstream child welfare approaches have been applied to assess and respond to child maltreatment in Aboriginal families in much the same way. But was this the best model to respond to a community in crisis as a result of residential schools and colonization?

There are between 22,500 and 28,000 First Nations children in the care of the Canadian child welfare system…three times the number that attended residential schools in the 1940’s.
First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, 2002; Child Welfare League of Canada, 2003; Blackstock, 2002

First Nations CIC Increase by Region 95-01
  • BC 90.4%
  • Alberta 52.7%
  • Sask. 160.3
  • Man. 11.4%
  • Ontario 163.8%
  • Quebec 93.8%
  • Yukon 5.0%
  • Atlantic 130%
Data represents on reserve children only

Census data showed that the population of Status Indian children decreased 1% during this same time period
Statistics Canada, 2001

So why is it that governments require First Nations to follow their child welfare policies – even though there is little evidence they benefit Aboriginal children? Maybe it is because we were not aware that Aboriginal children come to the attention of child welfare for different reasons than non Aboriginal children. Aboriginal children are less likely to be reported for physical and sexual abuse than non Aboriginal children: Neglect (poverty, substance misuse, and poor housing) are the key reasons why Aboriginal come into child welfare care.
Trocme, KnokeBlackstock, 2005

We did not know that Aboriginal children are removed at twice the rate of their non Aboriginal peers despite there being no significant difference in child functioning. We may have not understood that the real risk factors to Aboriginal children are often outside of the control of Aboriginal parents - poverty, poor housing and substance misuse. We assumed that First Nations parents had the same access to supports as non Aboriginal parents

20 years ago First Nations began establishing their own FNCFSA to deliver child welfare on reserve and stem the tide of children leaving their communities - they are required to follow provincial statutes and regulations that have substantively failed Aboriginal children.

The Way Forward:
  • Respecting that Indigenous peoples are in the best position to care for Indigenous children (Cornell and Kalt, 2002; Chandler and Lalonde, 2003)
  • Equal access to resources (MacDonald and Ladd, 2000; Nadjiwanand Blackstock, 2003)
  • Focused and broad based social activism to address structural risk to communities
It begins with understanding that Reconciliation is before us not behind us

Native Canadians to Get 1.6 Billion in damages for Residential School Abuse
Howard Williams; Inter Press Service (IPS); 24 November 2005

OTTAWA, Nov 23 (IPS) - The Canadian government announced Wednesday an "agreement in principle" to pay 1.7 billion dollars to tens of thousands of Canada's indigenous peoples who were physically and sexually abused in government-financed, largely church-run "residential schools".
The residential schools were the government's idea at the time as the best way to "assimilate" native Canadians into the largely European lifestyle and culture of modern Canada. But the scheme turned out to be a disaster, with many credible reports of native children -- Indians and Inuit -- being sexually and physically abused by teachers and staff. Children were even punished with severe beatings when caught speaking in their native languages, even when it was in conversation with their own siblings. Hundreds of stories have emerged of native families being tricked into giving up their children and even cases of children being forcibly kidnapped by government or church agents.

The settlement was announced at a hastily arranged press conference led by Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan and Phil Fontaine, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, which represents communities on government-recognised reserves from which the children were taken to be assimilated.

It was a particularly emotional moment for Fontaine, 60, who has revealed that he was a victim of both sexual and physical abuse at a residential school. Fontaine told reporters: "While no amount of money will ever heal the emotional scars, this settlement package will contribute to the journey on the path to healing -- not only for residential school survivors but for their children and grandchildren. It's a wonderful day." He said the settlement was the "largest and most comprehensive" of its kind in Canadian history.

Nevertheless, the agreement is still subject to approval by federal courts, which are currently studying hundreds of individual and some class-action cases against the federal government and the churches involved in running the now-discredited residential schools.

Wednesday's package, if confirmed by the courts, will provide payments to some 86,000 former students of the schools. McLellan said that each former residential school student will be entitled to 8,500 dollars plus 2,560 dollars for each year spent in the residential school system. Individuals will receive up to 25,000 dollars each, depending on how long they were in the system. Payments to older victims of the abuse will be streamlined with an immediate downpayment of 6,800 dollars to each ex-student 65 years or older. Fontaine said this was an important element of the package because the average age of the victims was now 60.

The agreement also calls for further action on what McLellan called "a truth and reconciliation" process. "Bringing closure to this chapter of our history lies at the very heart of reconciliation," she said. "I am pleased to announce that we have made good on our shared resolve to deliver what I firmly believe will be a fair and lasting resolution of the Indian school legacy."

But the agreement does not include one demand made by the native groups -- that the federal government actually apologise for the abuse. Asked why not, McLellan said it was still on the table. She hinted it might come as soon as this week when Prime Minister Paul Martin and the premiers of Canada's 10 provinces and three northern territories meet in Kelowna, British Columbia, with native leaders -- including Fontaine. "Quite clearly," said McLellan, "the national chief (Fontaine) and the prime minister may wish to discuss other issues in relation to certain aspects of the residential school experience."

Fontaine said the package covers "decades in time, innumerable events and countless injuries to First Nations individuals and communities".

Among others at the joint press conference was federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, a noted former civil rights lawyer and advocate before he entered politics. Cotler said the decision to house young Canadians in residential schools was "the single most harmful, disgraceful and racist act in our history". The schools were launched under British authority, before Canada became an independent nation in 1867, but Ottawa continued to finance the schools until as recently as the 1970s. They are now all closed.

The 106-million-dollar "truth and reconciliation" process will provide funding for five years for the Aboriginal Healing foundation and "truth and reconciliation" gatherings. But victims accepting compensation will waive their rights to sue either the federal government or the churches that ran the schools. The money announced at Wednesday's press conference will be additional to a further series of grants expected to be announced at this week's meeting in Kelowna between Canadian and native leaders.

According to unconfirmed reports in Ottawa, federal and provincial leaders are expected to agree to a 10-year programme, costing more than 3.4 billion dollars, to improve health, education and sanitation on Indian reserves and some "improvement programmes" for natives who have moved away from recognised reserves or lost their right to live on those reserves.

3. Linking gender, domestic violence and child abuse

Absolutely spot on, but wrong

Robert Whiston; Letter to the editor in reaction to the contribution “Children's rights” in the UK Teeside Evening Gazette of July 29th, 2004 by Claire Jane Paczko, legal adviser to My Sister's Place, a Women's Advice Centre in the North-east UK; August 03, 2004

Claire Paczko's article (July 29th, 2004) is absolutely spot on when she says there are strong links between domestic violence and child abuse. The only problem is that she is not telling the whole truth, and I suspect both she and your newspaper do not really want to know that fuller truth.

The fuller truth is that statistics show that women (predominantly mothers) are far more likely to assault and abuse their children than fathers. Not only that, they are more likely to murder children. Official statistics for the year 2001 for Northern Ireland indicate for example that there were 247 deaths of children and young people aged up to 19 in Northern Ireland. A total of 134 of these deaths - two key points coming up now - involved children aged less than one year. Neonatal deaths (children aged less than 28 days) accounted for 73% (98) of the 134. A further 51 of these deaths involved children aged 1-14 years.

This is not something unique to British mothers but is manifest in all countries that keep official statistics. The USA is a lot more open and far less squeamish than the UK authorities in detailing the gender of the murderers. It may come as a surprise to many that despite the hue and cry of last year surrounding Prof. Roy Meadow, research shows that the number of alleged "cot deaths" has fallen from 2,000 per year to a little over 200 pa. It is therefore not a matter of courts frequently failing to recognise the danger but of journalists who are 'prepped' by special interest groups who are brazen enough to not simply skew but actually manufacture numbers to suit their cause.

I have been on several Whitehall committees over the years looking into the topic of child abuse and I have to say that Women's Aid, who usually come up with this sort of fictitious evidence, have never once presented evidence that was credible. Indeed, the figures they produced about 12 months ago regarding fathers who murder their children on contact visits, which was widely reported in the press at the time was found by the Lord Chancellors Department (LCD) to be false. The LCD found not 45 deaths in one year but 3 in the last 14 years. Civil servants at the ministry then advised them of the true figures (and in my presence), yet you can still find the erroneous ones on their website.

The trade Union NAPO came out with similar misleading figures and, I like to think, at my urging the Minister at the time, Rosie Winterton, called their General Secretary, Harry Fletcher, into her office and disabused him.

The figures quoted in the article relating to a 1999 survey sounds very much like those to be found in Hansard. Unfortunately, for the article's author, she does not quote from the far more substantial survey of 2001 which had a sample not of 130 but 2,689. This latter sample conveys a far different, almost opposite, picture (Child Maltreatment in the UK, A Study of the Prevalence of Child Abuse and Neglect, 2001).

The ability of some well-meaning advocates has to be questioned when they dabble in arithmetic and fail to differentiate that the 90% refers not to the whole population or a large sample, but 90% of a small sample, ie a tiny minority. The same deliberately created confusion is to be seen in figures relating to the incidence between pregnancy and domestic violence. Take another example, the stated abduction rate of 26%. Does any reasonable person know of 4 children in their locality where one has been abducted ?

Fogging up the public's perception of these issues is compounded by always referring to proportions, e.g. 26% of a sample and not actual numbers, e.g. 52, out of, say, a total population which might number 1,300. Proponents of reform will have to do better then try to hoodwink the public if they are serious about society accepting any of their reforms. I predict you will find this letter to large to publish and so I challenge you to give me the right to reply in your columns and permit the public be correctly informed.

Robert Whiston. FRSA

2. Who Abuses Children?

Australian Institute of Family Studies; Resource Sheet nr. 7; Februari 2005

It is clear from the available evidence that children are most likely to be physically or emotionally abused, or neglected, by parents or other caregivers (Cawson et al., 2000).

Further, despite the general view that children are sexually abused mainly by strangers, the reality is that most sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone who is known to the child, such as a family member, family friend or person with whom the child comes into contact (e.g., sports coach, teacher, priest) (Leventhal, 1998).

What information is available?

There are three main sources of data regarding those who perpetrate child abuse and neglect:
  • reports to child protection agencies;
  • child abuse prevalence studies (e.g., surveys of adults’ retrospective self-reports of their maltreatment experiences in childhood and adolescence); and
  • police statistics of criminal offences relating to the physical and sexual assault of children and young people.

All three sources of information have weaknesses, but it is considered that prevalence studies have the fewest limitations of the three. There are a number of limitations associated with child protection and police statistics:

  • Not all cases of child maltreatment are reported to child protection and police authorities.
  • Some cases where maltreatment is occurring cannot be formally substantiated because of a lack of evidence, therefore data on the perpetrators of unreported or unsubstantiated cases remain unknown.
  • The figures may also under-represent the extent to which child abuse is committed by biological parents because (Tomison, 1996a):
  • the closer the relationship between an abused child and a perpetrator, the less likely family members are to formally report the offender (Wallis, 1992); and
  • professionals may expect that non-biological parents are more likely to maltreat children in their care, and thus, injured children with a nonbiological parent may be more likely to be diagnosed as being maltreated (Gelles & Harrop, 1991).

Types of maltreatment

In this section each of the main forms of child abuse and neglect is discussed in terms of the evidence regarding those who are more likely to be identified as perpetrators.

Physical abuse

It is clear that both mothers and fathers physically abuse children. A British prevalence study found that while mothers were more likely than fathers to be responsible for physical abuse (49% of incidents compared to 40%) (Cawson et al., 2000), part of the difference may be explained by the greater time children spend with their mothers than fathers. Violence was also reported to be perpetrated by stepmothers (3%) or stepfathers (5%), grandparents (3%) and other relatives (1%).

There is some evidence that children living with both biological parents are more likely to be physically abused by their fathers than their mothers. For instance, Creighton and Noyes (1989) found that when the child was living with both birth parents, mothers were implicated in 36% of cases and fathers in 61%.

Some research suggests that men living with children are most likely to perpetrate severe physical abuse, especially abuse that results in a child’s death (Straus et al., 1980 cited by Englander, 2003; Ewing, 1997).

Single parents, adolescent parents, and de facto or stepparents (particularly males) have been found to be at higher risk of physically abusing children (Gelles, 1989).

The number of single father families is small (e.g., 2.7% of families in Australia, ABS 2004), and very little is known about whether their risk of providing a context for child maltreatment differs from that of other types of families (Tomison, 1996a).


Only a person who has a responsibility to provide appropriate care for a child can fail to provide that care, therefore neglect is predominantly perpetrated by biological parents.

However neglect can also be perpetrated by other individuals who have been charged with the care of a child, such as foster carers, teachers or child-care providers.

Few prevalence studies assess neglect. However child protection data confirm that biological parents are held responsible for the vast majority of neglect cases (Sedlak & Broadhurst, 1996), with step and defacto parents being under-represented (Tomison, 1996a).

Despite changes to the role of women in the paid work force such that they are absent from the household for at least part of the week, most societies (including western societies) still perceive childrearing to be primarily the responsibility of women. As a result, mothers are often seen as the responsible parent in the majority of neglect cases even in two-parent families. In light of society’s views on gender roles, it has been argued that this may constitute unreasonable ‘mother blaming’ (O’Hagan & Dillenberger, 1995).

‘Chronic’ neglect cases can be characterised by economic disadvantage (low income, poor housing and living conditions), and long-term involvement with family support and child protection services (Coulton, Korbin, Su, & Chow, 1995; Nelson, Saunders, & Landsman, 1993).

It is important to note that it is difficult to separate the effect of family type (that is – increased risk associated with being a single mother) from the impact of economic disadvantage. Further research is needed to explore this area (Lawrence & Irvine, in press; Tomison, 1996a).

Fatal Child Abuse

Child deaths resulting from parental abuse are unique among homicides in terms of the high proportion of women offenders. Female offenders are usually biological mothers, whereas male perpetrators are usually de facto or step parents to the child victim (Alder & Polk, 2001). It has been found that de facto or stepparents kill children in their care at a much greater rate than biological parents, with many more stepchildren killed by stepfathers than by stepmothers (Daly & Wilson, 1994; Strang, 1995). The greater rate of harming by stepfathers is in part due to small children rarely residing with biological fathers and stepmothers (Daly & Wilson, 1994).

Most researchers who have used police homicide records suggest that the majority of perpetrators are males (Lyman et al., 2003). However, many deaths due to maltreatment may not meet the criminal definition of homicide, particularly deaths due to neglect (Finkelhor, 1997; Lawrence & Irvine, in press). The US National Incidence Study (Sedlak & Broadhurst, 1996), which is based on child maltreatment cases that include neglect, showed that almost 80 per cent of fatal maltreatment cases were attributed to female perpetrators.

Studies have shown that mothers are predominantly responsible for neonaticides (death of child aged under 24 hours) (Creighton, 1995, Finkelhor & Dziuba-Leatherman, 1994).

These women tend to be young or immature women who are ill-equipped to deal with pregnancy and the care of a child (Finkelhor, 1997).

There is evidence that men are most often responsible for child deaths that result from physical assault (Ewing, 1997). A characteristic of these cases is the apparent attempt to punish or discipline in response to the child’s behaviour (e.g., crying), rather than an intent to kill the child (Adler & Polk, 2001).

Sexual Abuse

A review of North American sexual abuse prevalence studies suggested that sexual abuse is committed primarily by males (90 per cent of cases) (Finkelhor, 1994). The review also found that the child knew most perpetrators, with ‘strangers’ constituting between 10-30 per cent of offenders.

Non-biological male family members (stepfather or mother’s de facto partner) are disproportionately represented as sex offenders. For example, Russell (1989) reported that girls living with stepfathers were at a markedly increased risk: 17% had been sexually abused compared with 2.3% of girls living with biological fathers.

Although males clearly constitute the majority of perpetrators, a review of the evidence for female sex abusers (Finkelhor & Russell, 1984) concluded that females do abuse in a small proportion of cases: approximately 5 per cent of female victims, and 20 per cent of males victims experience sexual abuse perpetrated by a female.

Leventhal (1990) argued that women who fail to protect their child from sexual abuse may in some cases be seen as at least partly responsible. It has also been highlighted that often women who do sexually abuse children do so at the instigation or encouragement of male abusers (Adams-Tucker 1982, as cited by Wurtele & Miller-Perrin, 1993; Faller, 1987).

On the other hand, others argue that the low prevalence of female sexual abusers is an underestimation because of a general unwillingness to believe that women also commit sexually abusive acts (Banning 1989, as cited in Wurtele and Miller-Perrin, 1993).

Acknowledgement that children and adolescents may commit acts of sexual abuse has only occurred relatively recently (Vizard, Monck, & Misch, 1995). The National Children's Home (1992, as cited in Masson, 1995) reported that it is estimated that between one-quarter to one-third of sexual abuse cases in the UK are perpetrated by a child or young person.

Psychological maltreatment

The core issue of emotional (or psychological) abuse is that it is a sustained pattern of verbal abuse and harassment by an adult that results in damaging a child’s self esteem or social competence (Tomison & Tucci, 1997).

A US survey of child maltreatment cases welfare and law enforcement professionals found that biological parents were responsible for 81% of cases of psychological maltreatment, non-biological parents were responsible for 13%, and extra familial perpetrators responsible for 5%. Of biological parents, mothers were the perpetrators of emotional abuse in 60% of incidents and fathers were the perpetrators in 55% (these figures exceed 100% as in some instances both mothers and fathers perpetrate emotional abuse) (Sedlak & Broadhurst, 1996).

It is difficult to determine the true extent of psychological maltreatment and to identify who is responsible for perpetrating psychological maltreatment. The difficulties in researching psychological maltreatment stem from on-going disagreements over how to define and measure this form of maltreatment (Tomison & Tucci, 1997; Black, Slep, & Heyman, 2001). For example, there is some debate over whether to make a distinction between psychological abuse (e.g., verbal abuse) and psychological neglect (e.g., ignoring).

Witnessing Family Violence

There is a lot of research that indicates that family violence and child maltreatment cooccur, however there is a lack of research that investigates the number of children exposed to family violence and the identity of the perpetrators of the violence to which children are exposed (Tomison & Tucci, 1997).

Research suggests that men are the main perpetrators of spousal assault (Mulroney, 2003), but some women can also be perpetrators. The reported prevalence of female perpetrators is low. For instance, one study found that 85-95% of calls to police concern male assaults on wives (Queensland Domestic Violence Task Force, 1988). Often spousal violence perpetrated by women is excluded from research studies due to small numbers.

The 1996 Women’s Safety Survey (ABS, 1996) showed that men in cohabiting relationships were about twice as likely as married men to perpetrate emotional and physical violence toward their current partner.

What is the rate of intergenerational transmission of child abuse?

It is widely believed that children who have been maltreated are more likely to become abusive parents than children who have not been maltreated. When this occurs this is known as the intergenerational transmission of abuse.

Estimations of the rate of intergenerational transmission of child maltreatment have ranged from 7 per cent (Gil, 1970) to 70 per cent (Egeland & Jacobvitz, 1984, as cited in National Research Council, 1993). However adults who have been maltreated as children may not necessarily have suffered the identical form of maltreatment they themselves perpetrate (Vondra & Toth, 1989).

Current evidence suggests that the majority of parents who have been maltreated as children do not become abusive or neglectful parents (Tomison, 1996b).

The best estimates are that approximately 30 per cent of maltreated children (with a plus or minus 5 per cent error) will go on to maltreat children in some way when they are adults (Kaufman & Zigler, 1987). This figure needs to be approached with caution because of methodological issues.

References and Further Reading

  • Alder, C., & Polk, K. (2001). Child victims of homicide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (1996). Women’s safety Australia. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2004). Australian social trends. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  • Black, D. A., Slep, A. M., & Heyman, R. E. (2001). Risk factors for child psychological abuse. Aggression and violent behaviour, 6, 189-201.
  • Cawson P., Wattam, C., Brooker, S., & Kelly, G. (2000). Child maltreatment in the United Kingdom: A study of the prevalence of child abuse and neglect. London: National Society for the Prevention Of Cruelty to Children.
  • Creighton, S., & Noyes, P. (1989). Child abuse trends in England and Wales 1983-1987. London: National Society for the Prevention Of Cruelty to Children.
  • Creighton, P. (1995). Voices from childhood: A survey of childhood experiences and attitudes to child rearing among adults in the United Kingdom. London: National Society for the Prevention Of Cruelty to Children.
  • Coulton, C. J., Korbin, J. E., Su, M., & Chow, J. (1995). Community level factors and child maltreatment rates. Child Development, 66, 1262-1276.
  • Daly, M., & Wilson, M. I. (1994). Some differential attributes of lethal assaults on small children by stepfathers versus genetic fathers. Ethology and Sociobiology, 15, 207-217. · Englander, E. K. (2003). Understanding violence (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Ewing, C. P. (1997). Fatal families: The dynamics of intra-familial homicide. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. · Faller, K.C. (1987). Women who sexually abuse children. Violence and Victims, 2, 263-276.
  • Finkelhor, D. (1994). Current information on the scope and nature of child sexual abuse. The Future of Children, 4, 31–53.
  • Finkelhor, D. (1997). The homicide of children & youth: A developmental perspective. In G. Kaufman Kantor & J. Jasinski (Eds.), Out of the darkness: Contemporary perspectives on family violence (pp. 17-34). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
  • Finkelhor, D., & Dziuba-Leatherman, J. (1994). Children as victims of violence: A national survey. Paediatrics, 94, 413-420.
  • Finkelhor, D., & Russell, D. E. H. (1984). Women as perpetrators. In D. Finkelhor (Ed.), Child sexual abuse: New theory and research (pp. 171-187). New York: The Free Press.
  • Gelles, R. J. (1989). Child abuse and violence in single-parent families: Parent absence and economic deprivation. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 59, 492-501.
  • Gelles, R. J., & Harrop, J. W. (1991). The risk of abusive violence among children with nongenetic caretakers. Family Relations, 40, 78-83.
  • Gil, D. (1970). Violence against children. Boston, Mass: Harvard University Press. · Kaufman, J., & Zigler, E. (1987). Do abused children become abusive parents? American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 57, 186-192.
  • Lawrence, R., & Irvine, P. (in press). Redefining fatal child neglect. Child Abuse Prevention Issues, Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  • Leventhal, J. M. (1990). Epidemiology of child sexual abuse. In R.K. Oates (Ed.), Understanding and managing child sexual abuse (pp. 18-42). Sydney: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
  • Leventhal, J. M. (1998). Epidemiology of sexual abuse of children: Old problems, new directions. Child Abuse & Neglect, 22, 481-491.
  • Lyman, J. M., McGwin, G., Jr., Malone, D. E., Taylor, A. J., Brissie, R. M., Davis, G., et al. ( 2003). Epidemiology of child homicide in Jefferson County, AL. Child Abuse & Neglect, 27, 1063-1073.
  • Masson, H. (1995). Children and adolescents who sexually abuse other children: response to an emerging problem. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 7, 325-336.
  • National Research Council (1993). Understanding child abuse and neglect. Washington DC: National Academy Press.
  • Nelson, K. E., Saunders, E. J., & Landsman, M. J. (1993). Chronic child neglect in perspective. Social Work, 38, 661 - 671.
  • O’Hagan, K., & Dillenberger, K. (1995). The abuse of women within childcare work. Bristol: PA Open University Press.
  • Queensland Domestic Violence Task Force (1988). Beyond these walls, report of the Queensland Domestic Violence Task Force to the Minister for Family Services and Welfare Housing. Brisbane: Queensland Government.
  • Russell, D. E. H. (1989). The secret trauma: Incest in the lives of girls and women. New York: Basic Books.
  • Sedlak, A. J., & Broadhurst, D. D. (1996). Third national incidence study of child abuse and neglect: Final report. Washington, DC: US Dept. of Health and Human Services.
  • Strang, H. (1995). Child abuse homicides in Australia: Incidence, circumstances, prevention and control. In D. Chappell and S. Egger (Eds.) Australian Violence: Contemporary Perspectives II (pp. 71-86), Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.
  • Tomison, A. M. (1995a). Spotlight on child neglect. Issues in Child Abuse Prevention, 4, Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  • Tomison, A. M. (1995b). Update on child sexual abuse, Issues in Child Abuse Prevention, 5, Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  • Tomison, A. M. (1996a). Child maltreatment and family structure, Child Abuse Prevention Discussion, 1, Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  • Tomison, A.M. (1996b). Intergenerational transmission of maltreatment, Issues in Child Abuse Prevention, 6, Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  • Tomison, A. M., & Tucci, J. (1997). Emotional Abuse: The hidden form of maltreatment. Issues in Child Abuse Prevention, 8, Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  • Vizard, E., Monck, E., & Misch, P. (1995). Child and adolescent sex abuse perpetrators: A review of the research literature. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 36, 731-756.
  • Vondra, J. I., & Toth, S. L. (1989). Ecological perspectives on child maltreatment: Research and intervention. In J. T. Pardeck (Ed.), Child abuse and neglect: Theory, research, and practice. New York: Gordon and Breach.
  • Wallis, Y. (1992). The Victorian community's attitudes to child sexual abuse. Melbourne: Community Services Victoria, · Wurtele, S. K., & Miller-Perrin, C. L. (1993). Preventing child sexual abuse: Sharing the responsibility. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

1. Double-standard treatment for child abusers

Source: Renew America; Carey Roberts; January 17, 2006

Heather Thomas of Fairfax, VA was arrested last week in the shaking death of her 6-day-old granddaughter. On Christmas Day Valerie Kennedy held her son in a tub of scalding water as punishment, causing his death. A few days later Genevieve Silva was arrested in Oklahoma on child rape charges for luring a high school student to run away from home.

Chances are you didn't read about these incidents in your local newspaper. Because when a man commits abuse, it seems the story is splashed all over the front page. But when the perpetrator is a member of the fairer sex, the story is relegated to the bottom of the Police Report on page C9.

Each year the federal Administration for Children and Families surveys child protective service (CPS) agencies around the country to spot the latest trends in child abuse. And according to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, women are the most common abusers of children.

In 2003, females, usually mothers, represented 58% of perpetrators of child abuse and neglect, with men composing the remaining cases. In that same year an estimated 1,500 children died of abuse or neglect. In 31% of those cases, the perpetrator was the mother acting alone, compared to 18% of fathers acting alone.

Then there's the scandal of Dumpster babies. In 1998, 105 newborn infants were discovered abandoned in public places. One-third of those babies were found dead.

In a civilized society that makes adoption services widely-available, that practice should have been condemned as unconscionable and wrong. But instead of prosecuting the abandoners, we accommodated to the societal imperative to provide choices to women no matter the moral consequences. So we passed laws to establish "safe havens."

Under New York law, mothers can now anonymously drop off their infants up to five days old. But if she later has second thoughts, not to worry. She can come back and reclaim the child up to 15 months later.

That satisfaction-guaranteed-or-your-money-back offer might work at a Macy's handbag sale, but that's not how a moral society treats its most vulnerable members.

Patricia Pearson has written a blockbuster book called, When She Was Bad: Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence. Pearson documents repeated examples of violent women who draw their Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card by claiming PMS, battered woman's syndrome, or postpartum depression.

Remember Andrea Yates who admitted to drowning her five boys in a bathtub? Of course the National Organization for Women rushed to her defense, claiming that postpartum blues justified the serial murder. And two weeks ago Texas 1st Court of Appeals ruled that her conviction should be reversed.

Then there's the problem of women, usually female teachers, who seduce and deflower teenage boys. Look how the media sanitizes the issue. Reporters trivialize the incident using clinical phrases such as "sexual contact," or worse envelope the story in a snickering "didn't-he-get-lucky" tone.

I once knew a teenage boy who was raped by his older sister's girlfriend during a holiday visit to his parent's home. Ten years later, he was still devastated by the incident. Of course he never reported the assault, no one would have taken him seriously.

When these cases go to trial, the double standard persists. As CNN's Nancy Grace plaintively asks, "Why is it when a man rapes a little girl, he goes to jail, but when a woman rapes a boy, she had a breakdown?"

And shame on reporters who use limp clichés to excuse the inexcusable. Like the story about a New Orleans mom who stuffed her 3-month-old son in the clothes dryer and hit the On button. This was the feeble explanation that the Times-Picayune offered in its December 8 edition: "Murder Suspect 'Was Trying her Best.'"

That condescending headline brings to mind the Solomonic words of columnist Kathryn Jean Lopez: "There are mental-health issues in many of these cases, obviously, but regardless, a society can and must say loud and clear: 'That's wrong. That's evil. That can never happen again.'"

To which I say, "Amen."

In radio talk shows and internet bulletin boards around the nation, Americans' ire has reached the boiling point over female child abusers who are treated with reverential deference by the media and our legal system.

As long as we tolerate this gender double-standard, the problem will fester and grow. And our children will continue to be at risk. Carey Roberts is an analyst and commentator on political correctness. His best-known work was an exposé on Marxism and radical feminism.

Mr. Roberts' work has been cited on the Rush Limbaugh show. Besides serving as a regular contributor to, he has published in The Washington Times,,, Men's News Daily,, The Federal Observer, Opinion Editorials, and The Right Report.

Previously, he served on active duty in the Army, was a professor of psychology, and was a citizen-lobbyist in the US Congress. In his spare time he admires Norman Rockwell paintings, collects antiques, and is an avid soccer fan. He now works as an independent researcher and consultant.

© Copyright 2006 by Carey Roberts