Dads Against the Divorce Industry

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DHHS OVERSTATES CHILD ABUSE OCCURRENCE BY 400%

THE CHILD ABUSE "INDUSTRY"
Gerald L. Rowles, Ph.D.


It is alarming to see a report produced and distributed by the United States Government that is as distorted and methodologically flawed as that produced by the Department of Health and Human Services with regard to Child Abuse.

As a social scientist, and a reviewer of articles submitted to journals, I was appalled by the lack of objectivity, in fact, outright misrepresentation that pervaded the 1996 NCANDS summary, which ultimately exaggerated the actual occurrence of child abuse in the United States by more than 400%.

SUMMARY OF COMPARATIVE STATISTICS:

Abuse
Categories:
Total Reported "Children" Type of Abuse:
Neglect
Type of Abuse:
Physical
Type of Abuse:
Sexual
Type of Abuse:
Emotional
Rate Per 1000:
Total
DHHS CLAIMS:
(see "data sources")
2,900,000 530,873 255,907 138,554 47,079 43
ACTUAL:
Post Analysis:
"Substantiated", Unduplicated -
610,208 285,577 131,805 71,394 24,268 9
"Substantiated" As %:
(see "level of evidence")
100.0 46.8 21.6 11.7 0.4 note: "other" category has not been included in this comparison
Substantiated Rates Per 1000:
(68,024,000 pop. under 18)
9 4 2 1 .04 9
Substantiated Rates Expressed As % Of Total below 18 Pop. **
Subst."
.9%
**
.4%
**
.2%
**
.1%
**
.04%
**
.9%

(less than 1%)

SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT METHODOLOGICAL FLAWS:


  1. ** The category Total Reported "Children" includes and combines both "unduplicated" and "duplicated" data from the reporting states. This figure would be more accurately labeled Total Reported "Incidents", because what is actually being reported is both singular incidents involving one child, and multiple incidents involving one child. The result of this mix of apples and oranges is a gross misrepresentation of the actual levels of abuse in America. The recalculated figure of 610,208 "substantiated" cases of one-child abuse was obtained by comparing "unduplicating" State data with "duplicating" State data. The categorical figures were then derived applying the same percentage representations as in the original data to the new corrected total.

  2. The breakdown of "Types of Abuse" is also subject to the same kind of inclusion, meaning that the rates within categories are virtually meaningless in that the data combines multiple forms of abuse involving one child. This data has been retained as initially presented by percentage allocations. Nevertheless, it is clear that these NCANDS reports have been provided to numerous individuals, courts and agencies throughout the country - grossly misinforming these groups.

  3. As one moves from table to table and graph to graph in the NCANDS report, the data in the various categories changes, so that one cannot trace a given piece of data from one source to another as being substantiated/unsubstantiated; unduplicated/duplicated; incident/child, etc.

  4. "Definitions" in all areas of labeled "abuse", "substantiated", "data source", and "Children/Victims" are so vague or misleading as to be virtually meaningless.

  5. No data is provided as to "Family Constellation" when DHHS reports that 77 to 81 percent of all abuse is "perpetrated by parents." Thus, we do not know from this data whether the "parents" are single or married, male or female, or cohabiting. This is a gross misrepresentation at a time when Fathers are being made most suspect, despite previous knowledge that 60% or more "parental abuse" is perpetrated by mothers, and that children in single- and step-parent homes are at greater risk. The absence of this data is misleading to family courts where custody is in dispute, and fails to provide vital information that might be used to target "at risk" populations for intervention.

  6. When DHHS reports a 27% increase in "substantiated" or "indicated" "Victims" of maltreatment, it is essentially indicating; a.) an increase in allegations, b.) the success of it's own Child Abuse Promotion "awareness" campaign, c.) the broadening of vague definitions of abuse and substantiation, d.) the success of its own requirements which promote the generation of reporting at the local DHHS office level in order to maintain and qualify for funding.

  7. What DHHS fails to identify as critical factors influencing increases in abuse allegations are; a.) corresponding increases in population, b.) corresponding increases in divorces, c.) corresponding increases in single-parenthood (the latter two being funded by DHHS), d.) corresponding increases in abuse allegations accompanying divorce/custody proceedings (actively encouraged and assisted by DHHS).

  8. NOTE: Since abortion was legalized in 1973, the number of reported cases of child abuse has increased by 1,497 per cent, from 167,000 in 1973 to 2.5 million in 1991 (per US Department of Health & Human Services).

  9. Given the broad disparities between State reporting systems, many categories and data groups range from 9 to 48 State inclusion, with limited consistency across groups.

  10. These summary comments and the following data analyses and specific comments raise the question whether the DHSS/NCANDS report has any relation to reality.

SPECIFIC REPORTING FLAWS:


"SOURCES OF DATA AND DATA COLLECTION METHODS FOR "REPORTING"

Data Source Indicated: No. of States Indicating:
"No Information Supplied:" 5
Questionable or Unclear Sources: 13
System Being "Revised": 2
"HotLine" Phone Reports: 3
"Automated State Data System": 27
"Computer Generated Data": 3

Given the importance and impact of these reports and the resulting social outcomes, it is very disturbing that nearly half of the reporting states have reporting systems that are virtually anecdotal and unreliable. In many cases, the data is being handled by three or four different individuals or departments before arriving at a central source, providing multiple opportunities for data degradation.

"LEVELS OF EVIDENCE TO SUBSTANTIATE REPORTS"

Level Of Evidence: No. Of States Using:
"No Information Supplied": 8
"Some Credible Evidence": 16
"Credible evidence": 10
"Level of Risk": 1
"Preponderance of Evidence": 11
"Fair Preponderance": 1
"More Than 50% Credible Evidence": 1
"Probable Cause": 1
"Substantial and Material Evidence": 1
"Clear and Convincing Evidence": 1
"Caseworker Determination": 1

COMMENTS:

  1. It must be noted that once a "report" of abuse is "substantiated", the alleged perpetrator is then placed on the State Registry of abusers. That does not mean that they have been convicted in a Court of Law, only that they have been "substantiated". If they subsequently clear themselves in court, they must then petition DHHS for expunction from the State Registry.

  2. The absence of clear and consistent criteria across reporting States, makes all of the resulting data suspect. Further, the fact that many of the "caseworkers" making these determinations possess minimal education (B.A.) or specific training, makes the "substantiated" report highly suspect. Finally, even when the "caseworker" is a master's level, trained evaluator, their personal autonomy in making these decisions is highly questionable both from an ethical and constitutional perspective. It is ludicrous that a decision which so dramatically impinges on the alleged "perpetrators" life, and that of their children in the case of parents, should be made outside a formal courtroom.

  3. The fact is that a "substantiated" report of abuse remains nothing more than an "allegation", based on as little as "some credible evidence" or "fair preponderance".
CONSIDER THE VAGUE DEFINITIONS OF "ABUSE" AS APPLIED BY STATES:
  1. NEGLECT: (Ratings: Severe, general, caretaker absence, or incapacity) "Failed to provide needed care even though financially able to do so; or was offered means to do so" NOTE: Death from abuse or neglect in the U.S. was 1,111 children in 1996, or 1.6 children per 100,000.

  2. MEDICAL NEGLECT: "Withholding appropriate health care or perinatal exposure to drugs."

  3. PHYSICAL ABUSE: "Physical acts caused or could have caused physical injury to child."

  4. SEXUAL ABUSE: "Sexually exploitative activities."

  5. EMOTIONAL ABUSE OR NEGLECT: "Acts that caused or could cause serious behavioral or mental disorders."
It is clear from the vagueness of the above definitions that "caseworkers" are given ludicrous levels of power in people's lives. For example, from the above definitions a parent could be held to be abusive for allowing their child to be exposed to cigarette smoke; for allowing their child to be seen nude in the tub by a neighbor; for taking their child to the funeral of a close relative; or for allowing their child to go rollerblading without elbow and knee pads. I have direct knowledge of a parent whose child was removed from the home for not being allowed to go to Disneyland.

FINAL OBSERVATIONS:

  • At least 99.1% of U.S. Children are NOT being harmed - within the context of D.H.H.S. definitions of Abuse - if we accept "substantiated" as a criterion.

  • If we challenge the "substantiated" criteria, that figure could easily be 99.6% or greater.

  • On the other hand, if we include the carnage of 1 million kids being exposed to divorce and separation, and over 5000 Partial Birth Abortions (80% of which are estimated to be "elective") then the parallel figure of "unreported" Abuse is 7 times that of the DHHS report.

  • WHY WOULD DHHS INFLATE THESE FIGURES?

    • ITEM: The DHHS/NCANDS Report for 1994 claims a 43-per-1000 figure of "abused children" (which, as we have demonstrated above, is overstated by more than 400%.)
    • ITEM: In 1993, it was reported that since Roe v. Wade, the number of teen abortions has increased, from 19.9 per thousand teenagers in 1972, to 43.8 per thousand teenagers in 1990.
      In 1993, it was also reported that the number of teen births has increased from 22.8 per thousand teenagers to 42.5 per thousand teenagers in 1990.
      ( --The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, by William J. Bennett, published jointly by Empower America and The Heritage Foundation, 1993, vol 1, p. 6.)
    • ITEM: Remarkably, since (since Roe v. Wade), the number of reported cases of child abuse have increased by 1,497 per cent, from 167,000 in 1973 to 2.5 million in 1991 (per U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) - while the number of children living apart from their biological Fathers has grown by 172%.

  • The face-valid answer I propose is that this remarkable DHHS transposition of figures is a thinly-veiled attempt to deflect criticism of DHHS policies which support and promote welfare, parental neglect and abortion funding - and transfer the focus, given that they have removed data related to perpetrator-gender and family constellations, to myriad alternatives.




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