Child Abuse: Singling Out Single Parents?

So, I want to address a few good points brought up with my last post about single parents and child abuse.

The level of defensiveness among a few single parents who commented on the Facebook post honestly surprised me.  Being a single mother myself, it certainly wasn’t my intention to point fingers at single parents as abusers.  My only point was the fact that children of single parents are statistically more likely to be abused than children of parents who have a partner, for all the reasons I discussed in my previous post.  It sucks, and it makes me cringe too, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

There’s also the point that the Casey Anthony case was very different from what I described in my post, since she did have support and clearly had issues that went far beyond being a single parent.  Which is true– I’ll concede that.  I suppose I drew the parallel between my lecture in the morning and the verdict in the afternoon because she was a single mother who I, and the vast majority of people who followed the case, believe was responsible in some way for her daughter’s death.  Although it certainly was not typical, it does highlight an issue that I believe is very important.

Another person remarked that it was unfair that single parents might be more likely to be profiled as abusers if they bring their child in with an injury for medical care.  That point struck home with me.  I love my daughter fiercely, would never ever harm her, and I certainly do not want to be viewed with more suspicion than anyone else simply because I don’t have a ring on the important finger.

And yet if I think about it, it makes sense.  First of all, single parents aren’t the only high-risk group– also at risk are children of parents who were themselves abused, children from low-income families, and children who live in communities where violence is prevalent.  Single parents are simply the group I chose to focus on, since I’m a single mom and this blog is about single parenting.

So why do they teach us, as mandated reporters, that single parents are at a higher risk for abusing their children?  I suppose it’s for the same reasons they taught us in medical school about who is at higher risk for cancer, or heart disease, or any other medical condition: so we can focus our preventive efforts on those who need it most.  Single parents have less support, therefore we need more support.  To me, it’s that simple.

Of course this doesn’t apply to the vast majority of single parents, who are capable and loving despite the stresses we are under. But it’s not about pointing fingers; rather it’s about becoming more effective by narrowing our focus and aid to those children who statistically (in the past) have needed it more.

With all of that said, I do, as always, welcome any other comments, opinions, complaints, and whatever else you care to share or discuss!

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  1. by Nicole Dorsey

    On July 11, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    your stats make all the sense in the world, people get too emotional and don’t reason it out. nice post