|Baby P and the Child Abuse Industry|
|Written by Stephen Baskerville, March 14th 2009|
The Baby P killing reveals the child abuse industry at its most cynical. The Soviet-style ineptitude revealed daily is the product not of poor training or underfunding but of the logic inherent in bureaucratic politics.
We have long known what causes child abuse and why children like Baby P die. The vast preponderance of child abuse and child deaths occurs in single-parent homes. Very little abuse takes place in married, twoparent families. London’s Family Education Trust long ago demonstrated that children are up to 33 times more likely to suffer serious abuse and 73 times more likely to suffer fatal abuse in the home of a mother with a live-in boyfriend or stepfather than in an intact family.
Figures from the US Justice Department show that single mothers accounted for 55 per cent of child murders. Shorn of politically correct euphemism, what this means is that the principal impediment to child abuse is a father. ‘Fathers have often played the protector role inside families,’ writes Adrienne Burgess of Fathers Direct. A study in the journal Adolescent and Family Health found that ‘The presence of the father … placed the child at lesser risk for child sexual abuse.’
Yet instead of allowing fathers to protect their children, fathers are forcibly and systematically removed from their homes and children by family courts with the active support of social work bureaucracies. Ironically, this is often effected using trumped-up charges of child abuse against fathers, though statistically biological fathers are responsible for very little abuse. Judges claim they remove fathers, even without evidence of abuse, to ‘err on the side of caution’. In fact they are erring on the side of danger, and it is difficult to believe they do not realize it. Thus the child abuse apparatchiks remove the children’s natural protector, whereupon the real abusers — the single mother and her boyfriends — are free to abuse his children with impunity. Groups like Fathers4Justice and protesters like Jolly Stanesby are vilified for calling attention to the confiscation and abuse of their children, when they are merely responding as any parent can be expected to do when someone interferes with his child.
The sanctimonious hand-wringing now on display in Britain is endemic throughout the industrialized world.‘We cannot tolerate the abuse of even one child,’ says the US Department of Health and Human Services. But HHS funds an army of officials and programmes that remove children from their fathers’ care and then claim to protect them from subsequent abuse. The logic is marvellously self-justifying and self-perpetuating, since by eliminating the father, officials can then present themselves as the solution to the problem they themselves create. The more child abuse, the more the proffered solution is to further expand the cadres of what amount to plainclothes police. Clichés about social workers being ‘overworked and underfunded’ and in need of more ‘resources’ provide a fairly clear indication of a thriving bureaucratic enterprise expanding its turf.
Refusing to face these truths also means an increasingly repressive state machinery and authoritarian habits of mind that are unhealthy in a free society. Urging citizens to watch and report on their neighbours should they detect ‘signs’ of abuse, and requiring professionals to do so, can only foster a society of busybodies and snoops and will certainly mean more harassment of innocent parents and removal of their children, as is already happening.
Child abuse is entirely preventable. The current epidemic grew up with the welfare state and the divorce revolution, with the resulting proliferation of fatherless homes. It continues because of entrenched interests employed pretending to combat it. It is a textbook example of bureaucratic government creating a problem for itself to solve. As Dickens observed ‘the one great principle of the English law is to make business for itself’. Appalling as it sounds, the conclusion seems inescapable that we have created a massive governmental machine staffed by officials with a vested professional interest in abused children.
Britain deserves credit for the huge public discussion prompted by this case — a discussion that has not been held in the United States or elsewhere. But until we have the courage to tell the truth about who is abusing children and the state’s role in permitting and even encouraging them to do it, then all our professed concern for children is mere posturing.
Stephen Baskerville is associate professor of government at Patrick Henry College in Virginia, USA, and author of Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage and the Family (Cumberland House, 2007).