In a adhaiyekre
piece I wrote for today’s New York Post, I talk about how the Oscars seemed completely fixated on the evils of not just racism, but rape. Especially child rape.
The Academy Award for best film was about child rape (“Spotlight”), the best actress was in a movie about abduction and rape (“Room”), and the Vice President showed up and spoke about campus rape (as if it’s more prevalent than off-campus rape, which it’s not). Then rape survivors were featured on stage, and Lady Gaga sang about rape. And when ABC cut to commercials, often it was to advertise its own new show, “The Family,” which is about child kidnapped and held captive for 10 years. Maybe there was no rape involved. Maybe it was just a wholesome stranger abduction.
The thing is, since no one is FOR rape, you have to wonder why the entertainment industry is so invested in showing us how AGAINST rape it is.
Nancy McDermott, author of the forthcoming book, “The Problem with Parenting,” turned a lightbulb on for me with this thought:
With the #OscarsSoWhite issue hanging over them, â€œthe only way the Academy could get back any moral authority was to fixate on child abuse.â€
Her analysis reminded me of a wonderful essay by Fred Clark that talked, in part, about the flood of letters to the editor a newspaper received following an article on a kitten burning:
Those letters and comments were uniformly and universally opposed to kitten-burning. Opinion on that question was unanimous and vehement.
But here was the weird part: Most of the commenters and letter-writers didnâ€™t seem toÂ noticeÂ that they were expressing a unanimous and noncontroversial sentiment….[T]hey seemed to think they were exhibiting courage by taking a bold position on a matter of great controversy.
When our whole society is at odds about everything else — immigrants, the economy, education — perhaps the one thing we can all agree on (even while congratulating ourselves for being so evolved) is that we hate rape, especially the rape of children. This shared revulsion could be the only glue still holding us together.
The problem with this particular glue is that we have poured it all over everything, to the point where it sticks to almost every aspect of our lives. It’s not just all over the Oscars, and TV, and the news. It’s part of our everyday lives. When we consider giving our kids even an ounce of unsupervised time, we can’t get the door open because it, too, is glued shut with child rape fear. As I wrote in the Post:
When the entire entertainment world starts to look like â€œLaw & Order SVU,â€ all of us â€” but especially parents â€” become terrified. And that has a direct impact on how we raise our kids.
As you might have noticed, most kids donâ€™t walk to school anymore. Safe Routes to Schools puts the figure at 13 percent. And most kids donâ€™t play in the park after school either, unless theyâ€™re doing organized, supervised sports. The Child and Nature Network says only 6 percent of kids age 9 to 13 are playing outside on their own each week.
Of course, technology plays its part in keeping kids inside, but another part of the reason is parental fear.
Recent studies of parentsâ€™ top five fears found kidnapping was No. 1 and â€œStranger Dangerâ€ No. 4.
Obviously we all want our kids to be safe. Obviously, this is not a pro-rape blog post. It is a post that insists we look at the damage done by fixating on child abduction and rape. Why do people call 911 the second they spot a child outside?Because in everything they watch, see and hear, an unsupervised child is about to be kidnapped. They must save the child! Where are the parents???
You can read my whole essay here. But you read it on this blog all the time: When we overestimate danger, we are compelled to overprotect kids. The results are empty parks, empty streets, empty playgrounds. And lots more time to watch a scary screen. – L.
I found a different message in those movies. One of the big themes in Room was that in spite of the horrific situation they were in, the mother did everything she could to give her child as normal a life as possible without constant fear. It reminded me a bit of Life is Beautiful where the father turned the Holocaust into a game to protect his son from the ugly truth. These children actually were in constant life and death danger, and yet the message their parents gave them was that the world is a good place and they are strong and capable children able to handle the big wide world.
I find it ironic that so many children whose lives are actually normal and aren’t in any real life and death danger are being constantly taught that the world is dangerous and they can’t handle it without their parents right there every moment.
I wonder how those movies would have turned out differently if those parents had crippled their children with fear.
I don’t think the story in Spotlight is about rape. It’s about a most powerful organization covering up wrongdoing to protect the institution at the expense of responsibility and decency. I do see your point though.
“The thing is, since no one is FOR rape, you have to wonder why the entertainment industry is so invested in showing us how AGAINST rape it is.”
Well, it’s actually kind of ironic because the entertainment industry is one of the biggest protectors of rapists – Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen.
I watched Spotlight this weekend and it was about an long winding indepth investigation, a big institutionalised cover up and the courage of speaking up when others want you to keep quiet.
It was about courage, not fear.
I read the book Room, wasn’t my choice but I was in a book club at the time, and that is definitely one of themes that happens. Even to the point where the child had to overcome a whole of fears just to help out, which ends up happening anyway. The mom does try and give the child a normal life, so much so that the child thinks their 10×10 room is the whole world. So yeah, the child was capable, but also had a lot of other issues that show up later. Not sure about the movie, but it comes out in the book.
One of the biggest defenses when being accused of one moral lapse is loudly proclaiming you are going to take the moral high ground on another issue. Personally I could care less, these people are entertainers, they are not politicians, and when they do get political I find most of them disingenuous. I watch them for their entertainment value, not their politics. Hollywood should just do what it does and leave everything else alone, they have a lot of their own problems, fix them first.
So many good points. I facebooked this one and identified myself as a daily reader of freerangekids.com
Commenters had wonderful points as well.
How are we going to end this cycle of fear and over-protection? Well, one step is — just show everyone kids living the way we all did when we grow up.
I must say that when I go on playdates and meet the Dads and they see that I am encouraging the kids to climb trees, rough house and wrestle (I have boys) — they often give me this silent look of appreciation, stand back, and let the kids climb and wrestle. [Or sometimes we even start talking about it — about not over protecting and letting our children have the childhood we had.
Thanks for spreading some sanity!
If you consume media, someone is trying to manipulate you.
Persuasion is a powerful force. Once you’re persuaded, it’s highly unlikely you’ll change your opinion, weird as that may sound. If you watch this stuff regularly, you begin to believe “the movie way” is how life happens. And we end up with stupid things like taking our shoes and belts off at airports, or never leaving our children alone in a car.
If you don’t believe me, try this exercise. The presidential candidate you’re going to vote for . . . imagine that everything the opposition says about that person is 100% true. Every negative, evil, crazy bit of information is true. Will you still vote for that person? Chances are, you will. And that applies across the political divide.
Hollywood is about persuasion. Best to avoid that world as much as possible.
@Workshop Books, magazines, and other media can and often is manipulative as well as movies and TV. To completely forego any type of entertainment for fear you might be manipulated is as overblown a response as, well, most of the situations discussed on this blog.
I believe you are spot-on with your assessment Lenore and the domino effect it creates. Day after day after day of child sex abuse awareness leads to terrified parents, terrified parents leads to over reaction, over reaction leads to tighter supervision of their children, tighter supervision of their children leads to more child protection laws, more child protection laws leads to more moral and law abiding people tripping over these laws and having their lives ruined as a result of it.
After the Penn State scandal, all of the pundits and sexperts went on the major news outlets such as Fox, CNN, ABC, etc. and emphasized that it is a law to report any childhood sex abuse to the police and failure to do so will result in prosecution. They would say things like, “If you suspect ANYTHING or have any suspicion or inkling whatsoever, it is your responsibility to report it.” So I’m like, really? Even if I’m only 20% or 30% sure that my best friend or good neighbor or my beloved family member is doing something sexual with a minor, I’m suppose to report it even if I may have some doubts about it?
Of course, we know the impending consequences to a child if we don’t report sex abuse and it’s allowed to go on but they talk as if it’s so easy to report any suspicion of child sex abuse. So do they also not see the repercussions of being wrong? That even a false reporting of child molestation can be enough to ruin a person for life? Do they not realize that even a negative accusation can affect the innocent person’s job and their family life in a negative way? Not to mention the friendships it can ruin and the wedge it can draw between loved ones. What would anyone here do if your best friend reported you for child molestation when that wasn’t remotely what you were doing but you still had to go thru all the scrutiny from law enforcement and the local media? Do you think that might invoke just a little bit of bitterness? It sure would for me!
Look, nobody wants to see a child’s life ruined but does that make it OK for an adult’s life to be ruined? Adults who are parents themselves? As for me, I’m gonna need more than an inkling or weak suspicion that my friend or neighbor or loved one is molesting a child before I report it to the police.
Brilliant, Lenore! I shared this far and wide.
“When our whole society is at odds about everything else â€” immigrants, the economy, education â€” perhaps the one thing we can all agree on (even while congratulating ourselves for being so evolved) is that we hate rape, especially the rape of children. This shared revulsion could be the only glue still holding us together.”
Beth, I reiterate my point. If you consume any media, someone’s trying to manipulate you.
However, the key is to know how you’re being manipulated. Maybe that manipulation isn’t nefarious. I want you to go see my movie, so I’ll make sure ads appear in your browser window.
I would also challenge your concept of “entertainment.” I can paint and be entertained. I can tie flies for my trout fishing excursion and be entertained. I can go exercise and be entertained.
Entertainment shouldn’t mean “I’ma gonna sit here and you’re agonna put pretty pictures on the magic screen.”
I think one of the points is being missed here: It is not true that children are never in danger. Rather, the danger they are in is overwhelmingly from people they know: parents, extended family, priests (more in the past than now for obvious reasons), etc. Stranger danger is massively overstated and the risk children of all descriptions are at from their families and others who know them is greatly understated. That risk is for abuse of all kinds, neglect, exploitation and kidnapping. Let’s put our attention where we know it needs to be instead of denying that kids are vulnerable in general.
To be clear, all the previews and information I’ve seen and read about “The Family” never actually indicate what happened to the child. It says he was presumed dead and that the character played by Andrew McCarthy served time in jail for the child’s murder.
The plotline could be anything from a stranger abduction, to family abduction, to alien abduction.
I don’t think Lenore or anyone here has ever once indicated that s/he believes that children are never in danger.
Yes, children are in more risk from their families/people they know than they are strangers. But children still are not in great risk from their families or people they know such that there needs to be fear surrounding children. The vast majority of children will reach adulthood without being abused, neglected, molested or kidnapped, whether by family members or strangers. Being aware that there is always some possibility that children could be being harmed within their family and not ignoring actual signs of such is good. Focusing on this, whether aimed at strangers or family/known people, is not.
Today in my media, George Pell refused to admit in a hearing at the vatican that sex with children is abuse or that anything horrendous happened under his watch as arch bischop in Australia in the 70’s. That shit happened in real life today. that is kids from the seventies trying to get recognition of what happened and what they survived. But what I read here is: how dare they scare all of us with their scary story!! A story that is by no means over and certainly not told enough yet for that actual system to be shamed and changed.
I didnt think it was the point to keep stories like these quiet but to act sensibly and come up with real solutions. To see a very measured and close to the truth movie about a stuggle like that doesnt create fear, but understanding and empathy. To make the point that really bad things happen but much less then the rethoric makes us believe and the best way for a kid to learn to deal with the world and thus that bad stuff is to make them self relient
“I would also challenge your concept of â€œentertainment.â€ I can paint and be entertained. I can tie flies for my trout fishing excursion and be entertained. I can go exercise and be entertained.”
Why demean activities like that by calling them “entertainment”?
I am more troubled by the continued references to the now discredited “1 in 5” statistic and the glorification of a highly questionable documentary, the Hunting Ground (or, as Joe Biden called it, the Honey Ground). At least it wasn’t nominated for documentary, just for the song.
We’re telling our small children that they are in constant danger, our teens that they are potential sex offenders, and our college students that they are either rapists or about to be raped. Just wonderful.
It’s called “Virtue Signalling” and now that you know you’ll see it everywhere. Everyone just has to let you know how good and thoughtful they are, unlike everyone else…
I am not a consumer. While I may consume certain things from time to time, the act of consuming does not define me in any context. I may be a diner, guest, customer, patron, patient, or visitor, but I am never a consumer.
Entertainment shouldnâ€™t mean â€œIâ€™ma gonna sit here and youâ€™re agonna put pretty pictures on the magic screen.â€
That isn’t even remotely what I said, and it’s pretty insulting. Reading is entertainment too, and I bet you’re OK with that.
The true irony is that, if one is searching for a perfect bastion of institutionalized sexual abuse and pedophilia, Hollywood fits the bill.
Donna–I will admit that I don’t have statistics, but I remember seeing stats that something like 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be molested before reaching adulthood, most by people known to them. I certainly doubt that the “vast” majority of kids escapes their young years without abuse, neglect, emotional trauma or sexual abuse befalling them. My goal is not to promote needless fear (and I am absolutely a free ranger), but rather to encourage this society to open its eyes to the fundamental and universal vulnerability of children. When we understand this, we will move toward raising and educating them more humanely.
Excellent piece, Lenore. Bravo!
We hate rape! That’s why we love to see it on TV so often.
You know another thing we don’t like? We don’t like bullies. We don’t like them so much that we have lots of anti bully campaigns at schools. However we like to glorify them on TV. On reality tv, we don’t vote them off because they are great for ratings. On ‘Survivor’, we had to have an all bad guys team. We had to bring back the bullies from past shows because we love them so much. We always have a bad guy as one of our judges for shows like America’s got talent.
We like leaders of organized crime. We love TV shows of them. We also make hit men into good guys. Wasn’t John Travolta and Samuel Jackson great in Pulp Fiction? They were so cool! There are lots of hit man movies where the hit man is sort of the good guy.
The Romans use to watch gladiators fight to the death for entertainment. It’s a good thing that we are civilized now. Let’s make sure that we blame TV for this problem and not our demand for stuff like this.
Megan, even if those statistics are accurate, of which I am suspicious, 80/20 is in fact an overwhelming majority.
Even if we believe those statistics, which I don’t for many reasons that have been discussed here by many people previously, that still means that 75% of girls and 84% of boys are NOT molested during childhood. That IS the vast majority.
Donna and pentamom–I disagreed that the vast majority of kids escape all kinds of abuse and neglect, not just sexual abuse. I stand by that. If you have statistics from well-respected studies to the contrary, I’m open to them.
@donna @megan Afaik, the 1 in 5 statistic is froms survey that had very low return rates and did not measured molestation as people normally imagine it. It includes things like a guy who touched 19 years old women breaststroke or legs during party. While it is out of line and should not happen, it is not same as molestation of a child.
Same would go for abuse or neglect. If you include a kid that was yelled at or insulted by parent or went to school hungry once cause parents were disorganised that one day, it may jump quite high. However, we should then be clear that topic is not serious abuse or neglect, but ordinary parental failure with much smaller impact on kid.
Find a copy of “How to Lie With Statistics” for an extensive examination of how to make the statistics come out the way you want them to.
If you want a startlingly-high number of children affected by child sexual abuse, there are a number of statistical manipulations you can inject.
Broadly defining “child sexual abuse” to include things that wouldn’t typically be included.
Treating each offense as if it has a separate victim (rather than the same victim being repeatedly abused)
Broadly defining “child” to include people not normally thought of as “children”.
Society’s pendulum is swinging. For a long time, child sexual abuse (and rape in general) was something to be covered up by both abuser and victim. Because it was so widely under-reported, people underestimated how often it was really happening. Now, we’re seeing some over-reporting, catching things that are not sexually-abusive under the banner.
Rather than fussing about differences, I suggest focusing on the areas of agreement:
1) Nobody should be raped or abused (as children nor as adults).
2) People who rape and abuse should be caught and punished appropriately.
3) People who benefit from covering up incidents should also be caught and punished appropriately.
Points well-taken. It’s certainly true that statistics can be abused toward various ends. Nonetheless, we must attempt to get a handle on how many kids suffer at their parents’ hands, particularly when that abuse contradicts our intuition about how children are treated by their parents. Children are by definition vulnerable (just as severely disabled people and extremely feeble senior citizens are, for example They are also very smart and capable, but that does not change the fact that they lack power). Parenting can be very stressful in a country without help from government, eroding job security and wages, and no extended family to fall back on, and we have all seen how crazy adult behavior can be. There are very large numbers of adults in this country you wouldn’t want bringing in your mail, much less raising children. If we are not vigilant about the potential for abuse under such circumstances, children will be left out in the cold in coping with parents who are compromised in one way or another. I am not a slave to statistics, but too often in this country we describe child abuse based on our intuition about who does it and how often it happens, as opposed to the reality.
Megan – If you have any evidence whatsoever from reputable sources to back up your belief that childhood abuse is as rampant as you insist, please provide it. I am happy to have a reasonable discussion, but you seem unable. Your only MO seems to be to come here to insist kids are being abused at home in large numbers without providing a shred of evidence to support your opinion – in fact, the only evidence you attempted to provide did not support your position – and then insist that you are right and will remain right until someone provides evidence that you are wrong. Not the way it works.
But since you asked, according to the Children’s Bureau, in 2013, the national referral rate in the US for CPS is 47.1 referrals for every 1,000 children (about 4.7% of the child population). Of those only 28.3 are screened in as potential abusive situations (about 2.8% of the child population). Of those that are screened-in for further investigation, only 1/5 are deemed to be abuse. That is only 9.1 children per each 1,000 or .9% of the child population that is subject to documented abusive situations. Now, even if we assume that each one of those cases are actual abuse and not situations in which CPS must become involved but would not qualify as abuse (say mom gets arrested and there is nobody to take the kids) or CPS overreach – which as a person who works on CPS cases, I can assure you is not a true assumption – that would still indicate that the vast majority of children are not suffering from abuse at the hands of their caregivers. Some children will, of course, suffer from unreported abuse and some will suffer from abuse, predominantly sexual, from outside the immediate family unit such that CPS would not be involved. However, I don’t think you will find any statistics from reputable sources that will push that .9% up so high as to indicate that something more than a very small percentage of the US child population is abused.
I’m not sure referrals to CPS is an accurate measurement of the rate of abuse in households.
The people who commit abuse have strong motivation to cover it up, whereas the victims are often effectively powerless. That’s a recipe for under-detection.
More significantly, I think that the contention that there is a 1:1 relationship between incidents of abuse and CPS referrals doesn’t pass the common-sense test. I’m not even sure I could get behind a claim that there’s a 1:1 relationship between incidents of chronic abuse and CPS referrals.
Much like the example above, I think you could adjust the statistics in a fairly substantial way by defining what you meant by “abuse”, and whether you count single isolated incidents or limit the count to only chronic cases.
“Find a copy of â€œHow to Lie With Statisticsâ€ for an extensive examination of how to make the statistics come out the way you want them to.”
Great post James.
Highlight things such as:
Nobody should be raped. The offender caught and punished. People that cover up incidents are just as guilty.
Bring up arguments such as these. That way if people question the accuracy of the data, you can attack them with
“People that cover up incidents are just as guilty. “
@Megan According to all statistics and analysis I ever seen, kids are more likely to be abused in foster care or institutions. Kids raised in institutions, especially when they got there as babies, do particularly bad. Foster care is much harder task then raising own kids and people fail more often at that. Even being adopted parent is a bit harder. Just taking the child away from people it has relationship with is harming the child.
So, you know, I am all for giving struggling help families which should include also real help not just “help” as go-to euphemism for punishment.
What I am against and you seem to be doing is trying to frame family as inherently suspicious dangerous place. Kids have to live somewhere and yes, when they live in family it is more likely to be member or close family friend to abuse them. However, when you remove the kid from that family, kids chances to be abused go up by a lot. All in all, despite the risk, it is safest place to grow up in.
” Iâ€™m not even sure I could get behind a claim that thereâ€™s a 1:1 relationship between incidents of chronic abuse and CPS referrals.”
It’s good no one made that claim, then.
“Iâ€™m not sure referrals to CPS is an accurate measurement of the rate of abuse in households.”
But it is the measure that we have. From that we can extrapolate.
“More significantly, I think that the contention that there is a 1:1 relationship between incidents of abuse and CPS referrals doesnâ€™t pass the common-sense test.”
Reading comprehension, dear James. First, referral numbers are meaningless. People can refer for any stupid reason. The only valuable number is that abuse is determined after an investigation to exist in .9% of the child population. And even that was not alleged in any way, shape or form to be a 1:1 relationship. In fact, I stated quite clearly that it was both OVER and UNDER inclusive.
It is OVER inclusive because it includes situations in which CPS has to take custody, and the only way that it can take custody of children is through a finding of abuse or neglect, despite there being no actual abuse or neglect. Essentially cases where kids are suddenly left without caregivers – usually through parental illness, death or imprisonment – and there is no person immediately available to take custody. It also includes the cases we handle basically to clear up legal relationships. Generally situations where kids have been living with grandma for years, but grandma has no legal custody of the children. CPS gets involved, and custody eventually transfers to grandma. It also includes CPS overreach, ie situations like the Meitivs.
It is UNDER inclusive because not every case of abuse is going to be reported to CPS. It also would not include abuse in situations outside of the family that would not be subject to CPS involvement. CPS is not going to get involved if a teacher molests a child.
The point was not that exactly .9% of the population is abused. While common sense would tell us that it is not a completely accurate number, zero evidence has been provided that child abuse is rampant or common as Megan likes to insist. In fact, the ONLY numbers that have been provided, however imperfect they might be, indicate that abuse is rare and most parents are doing just fine. While there are certainly reasons to say the .9% is not completely accurate, there is no evidence whatsoever on which to base a statement that children are abused in such large numbers as to make my statement that the vast majority of children are not abused to be untrue.
The reality is that we are talking about ABUSE. Not sub-optimal parenting, not I-wouldn’t-do-it-that-way parenting, not I-think-that-is-so-wrong parenting, not even piss-poor parenting. ABUSE. This is an extremely high level of parental dysfunction to meet. The world doesn’t promise children great parents. It doesn’t promise them good parents. It doesn’t even promise them decent parents. It doesn’t promise them parents rich enough to meet all their needs. It promises solely that they will not be abused. If we alone among mammals have so little natural ability to raise our young that large numbers of them are ABUSED, we would have died out as a species long ago and not moved on to build advanced societies in which most people are law abiding, decent and generally nice to one another.
I have not seen the movie about campus rape–but the idea behind Lady Gaga’s performance and Joe Biden’s words (as I see it) were not “you should be afraid you will get raped”. Rather they seemed to me to be, “if you get raped, you should not be afraid to press charges, tell your University, tell someone etc.” This is such a hugely different issue than child abduction, both because of the actual risk involved (i.e. The likelihood that someone will be raped or sexually assaulted is much larger than that a child will be abducted) and because of the response people face when they have been raped and do press charges.
“Reading comprehension, dear James.”
Ah, leading with condescension. From that, plus your history, I can fairly reliably assume that everything that follows is misdirection.
“First, referral numbers are meaningless.”
I stand corrected. That was exactly my point, and you agree with it right away. Bravo.
“The point was not that exactly .9% of the population is abused.”
The counterpoint was that it’s not likely that we have enough information to make a reliable estimate.
“The reality is that we are talking about ABUSE. Not sub-optimal parenting, not I-wouldnâ€™t-do-it-that-way parenting, not I-think-that-is-so-wrong parenting, not even piss-poor parenting. ABUSE.”
Since you want to differentiate between these two(?) things, can you draw a bright-line rule that does so? Because defining “abuse” differently will get you hugely different numbers. I also think that you are focused on chronic abuse.
Follow me, here. Consider a case where an otherwise excellent parent suffers a lapse of judgment. Maybe they’re having an epically, life-changing day. Maybe they’re having a reaction to some new medication they’ve been put on. Maybe they’ve just been a victim of an unusual circumstance. Maybe they trusted the wrong person, someone they should not have. The point is, on THAT particular day, they do something that is abusive. Next day, and every day afterwards, they regret it and rededicate themselves to the goal of being better parents. Now… those children can be called “victims of abuse”, accurately, along with all of the victims of chronic abuse, by someone who wants to arrive at a higher number.
CPS investigations tend to be focused on cases of chronic abuse (as is proper). Trying to estimate the number of cases of abuse from investigations of chronic abuse is akin to estimating alcohol use by counting DUI prosecutions. Which leads us back to:
“it is the measure that we have. From that we can extrapolate. ”
Um, no, we can’t.
1. Of course this happened at the Oscars because Hollywood loves to pat itself on the back for Confronting Big Issues. That’s what they do.
2. More importantly, while we as a society freak out about the possibility of any danger of our kids being sexually abused (mostly by the mythical bad guy who jumps out of the bushes), all indications are that we aren’t nearly concerned enough of about sexual violence against women, and that while we equate many instances of adults being around children into something sinister, we seem to want to do the opposite when it comes to women (and post-pubescent girls) who have been assaulted (they shouldn’t have been there/been drinking/dressed that way). I would like to see this far more discussion of this distinction in the media.
“Since you want to differentiate between these two(?) things, can you draw a bright-line rule that does so? Because defining â€œabuseâ€ differently will get you hugely different numbers.”
The law provides that bright-line rule. Abuse is defined by the law, not each individual person’s personal parenting preferences. For example, spanking may be bad parenting, but it is simply not defined as abuse until it reaches a certain level (generally causing bruising or leaving other marks). We don’t get to insert our subjective parenting choices into the definition, so no amount of me insisting that a single swat on the butt is abuse makes it so. Likewise, no matter how acceptable you may find it to be, hitting a child with a switch and breaking the skin is abuse.
And, while yes, what is defined as abuse changes over time, it is a stagnant definition at the time it exists. It doesn’t vary from person-to-person. It is not subjective. It is not even defined by the participants. It matters naught whether the child or the parent believe that the behavior was abusive. It is largely just a term of legal art.
“I also think that you are focused on chronic abuse.”
There isn’t a single thing that I have stated that would indicate that in the least so I am not sure why you are drawing that conclusion.
“CPS investigations tend to be focused on cases of chronic abuse (as is proper).”
No they don’t. CPS investigations tend to be focused on whatever is being reported, whether it be a single incident or repeated conduct. A single incident of physical or sexual abuse is 100% sufficient for both a finding of abuse and removal from the home (which are not the same thing as most findings of abuse do not result in removal from the home). A single act can also be sufficient for a finding of neglect depending on what that act is. Refusing to provide dinner one day is probably not going to get you there, but a single time of leaving a 3 year old home alone will.
“The law provides that bright-line rule.”
Great. What is it?
“Abuse is defined by the law, not each individual personâ€™s personal parenting preferences”
This is ridiculous. CRIMINAL abuse is defined by law. Individuals remain entirely free to define it as they like.
“no amount of me insisting that a single swat on the butt is abuse makes it so. Likewise, no matter how acceptable you may find it to be, hitting a child with a switch and breaking the skin is abuse.”
So swatting a child once on the butt with a switch, and breaking the skin, is both abuse and not abuse at the same time?
“A single incident of physical or sexual abuse is 100% sufficient for both a finding of abuse and removal from the home”
True enough, although not a rebuttal to what was claimed.
And, just to confirm that you ARE a lawyer, Donna, you are claiming that the legal definition of “abuse”, such as, say, my own state’s ORS 419B.005(1)(a), is a “bright line” rule (that is, one that is clear and unmistakable to a person who is not studied in law.)