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child abuse

Jun 282014
 

women-the-aggressors-in-dvContrary to the overwhelming perception in society, numerous studies and statistics recently published from a variety of disparate sources have indicated that women are more likely to be verbally and physically aggressive to their partners than men, and are increasingly participating in serious acts of violence against other men, women, the elderly and children.

The findings were presented to a symposium on “intimate partner violence” (IPV) at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Forensic Psychology annual conference in Glasgow.

Dr Elizabeth Bates from the University of Cumbria and colleagues from the University of Central Lancashire gave 1104 students (706 women and 398 men) questionnaires about their physical aggression and controlling behaviour, towards partners and to same-sex others (including friends).

Women were revealed to be more likely to be physically aggressive to their partners, and men were more likely to be physically aggressive to their same-sex partners.

Women were also shown to engage in greater levels of controlling behavior, which is understood to be a predictor of physical aggression in both sexes.

“This was an interesting finding,” Dr Bates says. “Previous studies have sought to explain male violence towards women as rising from patriarchal values, which motivate men to seek to control women’s behaviour, using violence if necessary.

“This study found that women demonstrated a desire to control their partners and were more likely to use physical aggression than men.

“It wasn’t just pushing and shoving,” Dr Bates said, of responses to the anonymous questionnaire. “Some people were circling the boxes for things like beating up, kicking, and threatening to use a weapon.

“The feminist movement made violence towards women something we talk about. Now there is more support for men and more of them are coming forward.”

In another finding in Australia, the number of men who report experiencing domestic violence from their current partner has almost doubled since 2005, according to a new survey released last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The ABS Personal Safety Survey 2012 collected information from men and women aged 18 years and over about their experience of violence since the age of 15.

Meanwhile, girls have been found to be more devious than boys in their torment of classmates, Australia’s biggest childhood study reveals.

Kids who are poor, overweight, Aboriginal, disabled or living with a single mother are most likely to be picked on in the playground, the Australian Institute of Family Studies has found in a survey of more than 4000 children aged 10 and 11.

Three in every five kids had been subjected to “unfriendly behaviour” in the past year, ranging from hitting to name-calling and being left out of social groups.

And according to new national crime figures women are now outpacing men in the violence stakes, with the rate of women committing assaults jumping 49 per cent since the mid 1990s.

Australian Institute of Criminology data shows the number of female assaults per 100,000 women increased from 125 to 186 between 1996 and 2010 compared to an increase of just 18 per cent for men, while other figures show that mother’s were by far the single biggest group responsible for child abuse and child murder in Australia.

Griffith University’s Violence Research and Prevention Program director Professor Paul Mazerolle said there was “no question” young women were getting more involved in violence: “There’s been a moderate increase in [female] violence but we as a community are less tolerant of violence so we’re seeing more of a response from police.”

Credit: Roberta Parisi – Family Law Express

Feb 012014
 

single-parent-families-bad-for-childrenSOCIAL progressives on both sides of politics may not like the message or the messenger, but Cory Bernardi had a point about the benefits of the traditional family.

Decades of social science data has shown that children, on average, do better in life on measures of health, education and social outcomes when raised in two-parent married families.

The risks to children associated with family breakdown disprove the fashionable idea that marriage, divorce, and sole parenting don’t matter for children.

The importance of marriage to children’s wellbeing is especially relevant to one of the most important child welfare issues facing the nation – child sexual abuse.

The vast majority of child sexual abuse occurs within the family setting. However, the fact that in 70-80 per cent of cases the perpetrator is found to have a “familial relationship” with the abused child obscures a more significant truth.

Numerous studies have found that children who do not live with both biological parents, irrespective of socio-economic status, are far more likely to be sexually abused than their peers in traditional families. Girls living in non-traditional families are found to have been sexually abused by their “stepfathers”, either the married, cohabiting, or casual partner of a divorced or single mother, at many times the rate that girls are sexually abused by their biological fathers in traditional families.

The 2010 US Fourth National Incidence Study of Abuse and Neglect found that compared to peers living in married two-biological-parent families, children living with a single parent who had a partner in the home were 20 times more likely to be sexually abused. Children living with a single parent with no cohabiting partner, and children living in a stepfamily (with married biological and non-biological parents), were five times and between eight and nine times more likely to be sexually abused, respectively.

Step and single-parent families accounted for only one-third of all children in the US (33 per cent) but accounted for more than two-thirds (66.8 per cent) of all children who experienced child sexual abuse.

Child sexual abuse statistics in Australia are far less comprehensive and meaningful. Data publicly available here does not provide specific information about family structure, the identity of the perpetrator, and their relationship with the abused child.

This is symptomatic of the deeper silences in the national conversation about child sexual abuse.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been widely applauded for finally “breaking the silence” surrounding child sexual abuse.

The commission’s inquiry into the ways that churches, schools and other institutions have mishandled child sexual abuse is crucial. However, we should still question the extent to which the commission’s findings will ensure children are better protected from sexual abuse in the future when the well-established but under-publicised links between family structure and child sexual abuse are not being investigated.

When the Australian Christian Lobby released a major report on child welfare in 2011 detailing the evidence demonstrating that family breakdown is a major risk factor for child sexual abuse, the facts were neither disputed nor acknowledged in the little public discussion that ensued. They simply washed in and out of the public domain and left no trace on community attitudes.

The issues are not fully and frankly discussed in this country because the public discourse is self-censored, in effect, by politicians, academics, social service organisations, and the media in compliance with politically correct attitudes towards “family diversity”, the socially “progressive” and “non-judgmental” fiction that says the traditional family is just one among many, and equally worthy, family forms.

In hindsight, we are justifiably critical of the silences that in earlier times kept child sexual abuse a hidden problem. Yet a comparable silence exists today.

Greater community awareness is needed of the potentially harmful impact the relationship and reproductive choices of adults can have on children. This could be achieved by a government-commissioned, anti-child sexual abuse public information campaign. The campaign should emphasise that the traditional family is a protective factor that prevents child sexual abuse. It should also publicise how divorce and single-parenthood increases the risk of sexual abuse for the more than one in four Australian children who do not live with both biological parents.

This is not as radical as it sounds. In New York and Chicago, public information campaigns are encouraging marriage before having children and discouraging teen pregnancy. Barack Obama has also endorsed the need for “strong stable families” to reduce poverty in America.

Australian governments already conduct advertising campaigns such as anti-smoking and anti-drink driving campaigns to educate citizens, promote certain values, and change attitudes and behaviours. A public information campaign that advertised the risks to children posed by family breakdown would end the new silence that hides the culturally unfashionable truth.

Jeremy Sammut is a research fellow at The Centre for Independent Studies. His report, The New Silence: Family Breakdown and Child Sexual Abuse, is released today.

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Feb 032010
 

A MOE mother who drank litres of alcohol a day got her five-year-old son so drunk he could barely speak or stand up, a court heard.

The boy was taken to hospital by ambulance with a blood alcohol content of .09 after she gave him four or five shots of home brew which was later found to be 44 per cent ethanol.

Kylie Eastwood told police she “just wanted to have a drink with her son because he likes his alcohol”, the Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court at Morwell was told.

Should this mother have been jailed? Join the debate in the comments below

Eastwood, 33, was spared jail despite breaching two previous suspended sentences and a call by police for her to be jailed.

Magistrate Clive Alsop gave her a five-month prison sentence, wholly suspended for two years, and told her she was on her last chance.

The court was told that when Eastwood gave her son grappa in July, 2008, she was already on a suspended sentence after being convicted five months earlier of leaving her three children under 10 home alone for several hours while she went drinking with a friend.

She had also breached a suspended sentence imposed in 2005 for refusing a breath test and driving while disqualified.

Eastwood, who has a five-month-old daughter, pleaded guilty to reckless conduct endangering serious injury, which carries a maximum of five years’ jail, and failing to protect a child from harm, which has a maximum of 12 months.

Mr Alsop warned her of the consequences if she returned to court in future.

“You know now, because you’ve had a lot of practice, what a suspended sentence means,” he told Eastwood.

“I don’t have to tell you what’s going to happen if you come back at some stage in the future having done anything which would adversely affect the welfare of your children”.

Mr Also said several changes in Eastwood’s life, but principally her abstinence since last September, amounted to exceptional circumstances that warranted a suspended sentence.

There had been an enormous change in her previously massive alcohol consumption, she had strong supports in place and had demonstrated in recent months the ability to keep her alcohol problem under control.

He said he also had to take into account the impact on her children if she was jailed.

Mr Alsop took the opportunity to accuse politicians of interfering in the business of the courts.

He said Victorian politicians were “apparently gearing up to do certain things towards the end of the year”, which could include the removal of suspended sentences.

He said it would be “a gross invasion of judicial independence” if the law allowing judges and magistrates to impose suspended sentences was changed.

Police prosecutor Dale Henry had urged the magistrate to impose an immediate sentence of 12-18 months’ imprisonment and said a minimum non-parole period of six months to serve would be appropriate.

Sen-Constable Henry said suspended sentences were meant to be a last chance for an offender to lead a law-abiding life, but Eastwood had “had her two last chances”.

“Denunciation, as a specific deterrent, should take precedence over rehabilitation in this case,” he told Mr Alsop.

“The defendant needs to be sent a message that the court will not tolerate repeated drunken, reckless behaviour that put young children at risk of harm.

“The community must be sent a message that child abuse is not tolerated in any way, shape or form”.

Sen-Constable Henry said making exceptional progress in changing a lifestyle was not an exceptional circumstance in relation to sentencing.

Defence barrister John Verhoeven said it would be unjust to reinstate Eastwood’s previous suspended sentence because exceptional circumstances had arisen since it was imposed.

Mr Verhoeven said Eastwood had consumed alcohol only once in the 13 months since discovering she was pregnant and was “clearly in the process of overcoming what was a chronic alcohol situation”.

He said there was no denying the facts of the case were “horrific, absolutely horrendous” and she had a shocking history in relation to alcohol and caring for children.

But she was now receiving counselling and support at a women’s refuge and had done a terrific job of addressing her problems.

He told the court Eastwood, who was now living west of Melbourne, was looking after her youngest child, a five-month-old daughter from a relationship which had now ended with a 70-year-old man.

A prosecution summary read to the court before the case was adjourned last October said Eastwood’s five-year-old son was having difficulty walking and speaking when ambulance officers were called to her home in Moe by the children’s father.

Police who were called said Eastwood was having trouble walking and her speech was slurred. Her son was unable to speak to police and “kept making grunting noises”.
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/kylie-eastwood-given-suspended-sentence-after-feeding-alcohol-to-her-five-year-old-son/story-e6frf7jo-1225826080888

Sep 132009
 

Child abuse is rising dramatically in Australia, according to the first in-depth study to be released on the issue in a decade.

Data shows cases of abuse against children rose more than 50 per cent between 2006 and 2008.

In the 37 per cent of cases in which a parent was the perpetrator, mothers were responsible for 73 per cent of abuse cases while fathers were the cause of 27 per cent.

The data, the first of its kind to emerge since 1996 and obtained under Freedom of Information (FoI) laws, was compiled by the Western Australia Department of Child Protection.

The figures present a disturbing snapshot of soaring child abuse and its perpetrators. Experts say the data can accurately be applied across Australia.

Applications under FoI for similar data from all other states were refused.

The statistics come as the Federal Government has signalled it may roll back the “shared parenting” amendments to the Family Law Act, brought in under the Howard government to give fathers greater access to their children in custody battles.

The data shows fathers are most responsible for sex abuse against children – accounting for more than 85 per cent of cases.

But mothers carry out more than 65 per cent of cases of emotional and psychological abuse and about 53 per cent of physical abuse. They are also responsible for about 93 per cent of cases of neglect.

There were 1,505 cases of abuse of children in WA in 2007-08 – 427 of them were carried out by mothers and 155 by fathers.

In other cases in which the gender of the perpetrator was determined, 463 cases were carried out by women and 353 by men.

A comparison with 2005-06 data shows the number of total cases of abuse had risen more than 50 per cent from 960. In 2005-06, mothers carried out 312 acts of abuse and fathers 165.

University of Western Sydney lecturer Micheal Woods said the findings “undermined the myth that fathers were the major risk factor for their children’s wellbeing”.

“While there are some abusive fathers, there are in fact a larger proportion of violent and abusive mothers,” Mr Woods said.

Sunday Herald Sun (Melbourne)
13 September 2009, Page 35

By Laurie Nowell

Jul 302009
 

Dads not the Demons

Recent data from the Department of Child Protection in Western Australia has debunked a common misconception about fathers and violence. The data shows that natural mothers are far more likely to abuse children than their natural fathers, other than in sexual abuse, where mothers were responsible for only 13% of cases. The past practice of lumping together de factos, live-in boyfriends and overnight male guests together with fathers as “male carers” has led to skewed beliefs about who abuses children. In releasing these recent figures that identify natural fathers separately, the DCP has provided a clearer picture of who is likely to abuse children.

The figures – obtained under Freedom of Information provisions – provide a clearer picture of who is likely to abuse children in families. The data show that there were 1505 substantiations of child abuse in WA during 2007-8. Natural parents were responsible for 37% of total cases. Of these, mothers are identified as the perpetrator of neglect or abuse in 73% of cases, including over 50% of cases of physical abuse. The accompanying graph shows the breakdown of parents responsible for each form of abuse.

Image:Dads not the Demons

Micheal Woods, an academic from the University of Western Sydney, said:

“The data is not surprising – it is in line with international findings regarding perpetrators of child abuse. And the figures do undermine the myth that fathers are the major risk for their children’s well-being”.

The release of this data is timely, and shows the need for solid evidence in developing legislation and policies affecting families. Recently, some radical groups have attacked the Family Court for its role in encouraging shared parenting after separation, claiming that this placed children at risk from violent fathers. Selected instances where fathers have harmed children were used to suggest that this is a common occurrence, and that shared parenting legislation placed children at increased risk.

However, this newly available information demonstrates that while there are some abusive fathers, there are in fact a larger proportion of violent and abusive mothers. This should not mean that children are automatically placed into the care of fathers to reduce risks of abuse, but rather that unrepresentative anecdotes of violent fathers should not influence legislation and policies designed to protect children. The difficult task faced by the Family Court in trying to ensure the best interests of children should not be compounded by irrational fear mongering, but rather by a considered examination of the evidence. Shared parenting may be inconvenient for one parent, or even unwanted, but with changing social roles many more men after separation want to be actively involved in their children’s lives. And in the vast majority of cases, their children will be very safe in their care.

Prof Micheal Woods, University of Western Sydney