March 16, 2012 / Safety

Exploiting Wisconsin’s Children


The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.

A quick note to Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman, who wants to pass legislation conflating single motherhood with child abuse: Stay away from the kids!

No, really. It’s not just that you’re wrong about this, and that further stigmatizing divorce and single-parenthood may actually make it harder for families to split from abusers. It’s that you’re willfully ignoring evidence about what HURTS CHILDREN in order to score political points.  I don’t care who does that, or what party they belong to, as an action it is morally reprehensible.

We have people who study child welfare full-time, who have decades of expertise. We have, in fact, a wealth of information about the plague of child abuse and neglect. And nowhere in that morass of correlational data that we have been amassing and analyzing for a very long time now is a clear statement that single parenthood causes child abuse. We know that women make up the bulk of single parents.

We know that the sex of child abusers is roughly half and half, but that this is highly dependent on type of abuse. For instance, we know that the vast majority of sexual abuse of girls is perpetrated by male relatives. We know that in families where children are abused, it is common that intimate partner violence is also occurring.

In short, what we know about child abuse is ugly and complicated, and we have no evidence suggesting that it would be particularly helped by pompous proclamations shoehorned into law intended to propagate bias against single parent families in order to transparently bolster “traditional marriage.”

The information we have here is not causal. The fact that we know that grandfathers abuse children, that teachers abuse children, that judges abuse children, that Scout Masters abuse children, is not an indictment of grandfathers, teachers, judges, or Scouting.

What we have is purely correlational, and we should not overgeneralize these findings for political gain at the expense of children. After all, we have ample correlational data that sexistopportunisticblowhards are eventually forced to change their ways as the tides of public opinion turn on them.

But we can’t know for sure that’s what will happen to you. We’ll have to wait, and observe, and gather evidence to find that out for certain.

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  • Marille

    Sandra thanks so much for bringing this up. Grothman seems to be from the same mind as Santorum (who by the way has adds in Illinois running not mentioning his agenda but portraying him as economist).
    on “Isthmus, the daily page” I found the below quotes. he sure likes to offend single women.

    “Even worse, Grothman believes government encourages women not to marry. Last month, his office put out a pamphlet detailing the benefits available to a single mother of two who makes $15,000 a year. It estimated that she was eligible for $38,036 in benefits, which would not be available to her if she married a man making $35,000 a year. The implication was that many such women avoid marriage in order to extract benefits from the government.

    Grothman believes other government programs work in conjunction with welfare benefits to cover up the real problems in society. “AFFIRMATIVE ACTION WILL DESTROY AMERICA,” reads the headline on a piece of literature put out by his office. The pamphlet expresses outrage over a number of state and local government diversity policies. It includes a column Grothman wrote in 2008, in which he chastised then-UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley (“who makes $300,000,” Grothman groused) for boasting of a dorm floor in which “everyone is different…African Americans, Asians, LGBTs.”

    In January, Grothman made his staff work on Martin Luther King Day, saying the holiday is nothing more than an opportunity for state employees to take off while most of the private sector has to work. He sees racism as a myth that those in power use to distract people from more important issues.

    “I think there is pressure, sadly, on black politicians to become race-hustlers,” he says. “I think it is a lot easier today for a black politician to say that the problems on the north side of Milwaukee are because of racism than the problems are because of the breakdown of the family.”

    On the good old days: “Homosexuality was not on anybody’s radar. And that’s a good thing.” (As quoted in The Capital Times, Feb. 11, 2010)

    On government waste: “I’ve interviewed over a dozen people who check out people who pay with food stamps and all felt people on food stamps ate better — or at least more costly — than they did.” (Grothman opinion column, April 14, 2004)

    On holidays: “Hallmark sells Kwanzaa cards. The Post Office sells Kwanzaa stamps. The rest of us should treat Kwanzaa with the contempt it deserves before it becomes a permanent part of our culture.” (Opinion column, Dec. 9, 2003)

    On the threat to America: “In this country, can we continue to exist if we have a government that is actively discouraging businesses from hiring men? Our country is not going to survive if we continue this war on men.” (Tea Party speech, Aug. 7, 2010)

  • Susan

    I cannot believe the trash the Tea Party has foisted on decent citizens who are, apparently, outnumbered by the loons who voted these idiots into office.

    This guy seems even worse than the Tea Party governor of Maine who wants to gut child labor laws. On the other hand, he’s not quite as bad as the rightwing zealots in several states who want women to endure vaginal rape with a medical instrument before having an abortion. Then, there are the state legislators who have a bill in the ,which the governor has said he will sign, that says that doctors cannot be sued or otherwise punished for withholding medical information from a pregnant woman about her’s or the fetus’s health if he thinks that information might lead to her consider a therapeutic abortion.

    I feel like I’m living in a parallel universe. I came of age in the early ’70’s. I’m used to being denied jobs because I’m a woman, being sexually harassed once I was hired, being paid less because “men have families to support” but these efforts to control and shame women are beyond the pale. Who could possibly approve of doctors legally lying to their patients?

    We need a leader. Where is the 21st century Alice Paul?

  • L. Anselmi

    Go Sandra!

    Child abuse, domestic abuse and sexual abuse — all need to be eradicated (or the closest thing humanly possible) regardless of the sex of the victim or the perpetrator!

    But marriage does not prevent any of these.

  • BevWKY

    I cannot believe the trash the Tea Party has foisted on decent citizens who are, apparently, outnumbered by the loons who voted these idiots into office.

    Whoa. How the heck did this become the fault of the TEA Parties? Any of them? As far as I can see this character has been in office since 2005, 1993 if one counts his terms in the Assembly.

    One thing I don’t see in this post is just how much support he actually has for the legislation because the premise sounds particularly idiotic to me.

  • Susan

    The three bills I described were offered by Tea Party-legislatiors in 2011 or’12 and Brownback was backed by the Tea Party in Kansas.