Las Vegas Review-Journal: ‘A New Child Welfare Campaign’

04.16.2012, 8:53 PM

Reported by columnist Glenn Cook:

…The maddening, tragic trend of children being murdered by the abusive boyfriends of their single mothers has the full attention of valley law enforcement, social workers and researchers. On Wednesday, as part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a coalition led by UNLV’s Nevada Institute for Children’s Research and Policy launched the “Choose Your Partner Carefully” campaign. The drive, which already is under way in other communities across the country, attempts to educate parents about qualities in a partner/caregiver that officials say can put a child at risk for abuse.

The state-funded campaign will place posters at bus stop shelters and fliers and brochures at community centers, medical offices, schools, child care providers, domestic violence shelters and government offices.

This is a great idea.

And better than another recent idea out of Wisconsin. See my earlier blog post to learn about the research on risks to children of living with their mother’s boyfriends.


6 Responses to “Las Vegas Review-Journal: ‘A New Child Welfare Campaign’”

  1. marilynn says:

    Elizabeth
    This makes your point and I think Alana’s point much clearer than some of your previous posts have made it. Some of the other articles you have referenced were written in a really unproductive way they kind of almost vilified women who were unmarried or divorced and raising their children when only a small percentage of women actually shoot for that its more something that happens when the situation is untenable or they are unceremoniously dumped. Saying that children of single mothers are more likely to be abused just kind of goes nowhere. This is a productive statement and it seems like the goal is to arm mothers and fathers with information that can help them steer clear of relationships with people that exhibit certain behaviors that are warning signs for mental or physical abuse.

    Choose your partner carefully is a very good message because while marriage may not obligate a person to their child, once you have a child anyone that gets involved with you gets involved with them so you don’t want to introduce anyone to your child unless your pretty sure its heading toward marriage.

    Good pick

  2. La Lubu says:

    Wow. Well, here’s the first paragraph:

    It’s one thing to tell an adult to do something to keep a child safe. It’s entirely another to ask an uneducated, over-her-head mother to read, reflect and make a judgment call.

    Setting aside for a moment this author’s implication (which he continues throughout the article) that single mothers are “uneducated” and “over their heads”….let’s do some unpacking, hmm?

    Right now, the standard societal message given to single mothers is: if for whatever reason a relationship with your child’s father cannot work out, your first task should be to find a substitute father—that a single woman cannot raise a child to be physically, intellectually and emotionally healthy on her own (single fathers are not given this message, and are encouraged instead to take their time in finding another relationship, to not introduce their children to any partner they don’t have an intention of making permanent, and that they are capable of effective parenting by themselves—so don’t stress). That’s Problem Number One.

    Problem Number Two is the insidious stereotypes placed upon single mothers (as witnessed in this article). Believe it or not, most of us aren’t “uneducated” or “in over our heads”. Two-thirds of us are not poor. (I would like to note the use of “uneducated”; while this blog likes to term those with a high-school diploma as “moderately educated”, the modern consensus is that people without a college education are “uneducated”. Please make a note of this for future articles and posts. Trust…..it’s not just the author of this article that holds that opinion.) This “trend” isn’t a trend; it has always been a problem for vulnerable women. Not all single women are at risk for this, despite the very real trend of opinion pieces that allude men have a hard-wired propensity to abuse children not related to them (that like cats, male humans feel an instinct to get rid of their predecessor’s prodigy in order to make room for their own).

    Problem Number Three: while the ridiculous notion that men are just like tomcats is false, there are socially constructed expectations of men that are harmful. As single mothers are stereotyped as “over their heads”, their children are stereotyped as being just as undisciplined. The “solution” prescribed is: bringing another man into the house, and for that man to instill discipline. How does he do that? By instilling fear via beating the children. No, I’m not kidding…..there are strong positive messages sent in the community that this is the correct, moral, upstanding thing to do. Sure, by “beating”, it isn’t meant “within a inch of the child’s life”….no, a more moderate beating that leaves bruising and pain that lasts a few days to a week should suffice (you know, the kind that would get someone arrested were he to perform that beating on another adult). It will be some work getting rid of this attitude; we still haven’t made much headway on domestic violence being anything other than a private family matter.

    But most important is Problem Number Four: providing platitudes on “choosing the right partner” to women who are financially vulnerable (and thus have little choice) without making structural changes to the assistance they receive isn’t going to work. Right now, my state is planning draconian cuts in child care assistance to poor mothers. This will throw many of them out of work, furthering the problem. But it isn’t just my state—it’s the entire nation. “Welfare reform” (or “deform” as it’s called in many circles) basically sets up the very problem that the author of this article decries: the unspoken national policy is to get women married off rather than getting them into gainful employment (witness the removal of education as equivalent to work credits for TANF). The focus is on the short-term issue of reducing the welfare rolls, rather than reducing poverty.

    And really—that’s what we’re talking about: poverty. Poverty is the problem. As long as the national policy of assistance to struggling families revolves around “just get married”, without a committment to providing living wage, high benefit, stable jobs for parents (that’s “parents”, not “fathers”—the Cleavers left the building a few decades ago) and without a committment to providing the education and training that those jobs require, we can expect to see more of the same. “Choose the right partner” when the rent has to be paid right now and one paycheck isn’t enough to cover it makes for a lot of “settling”—including settling for a man that has no paycheck (but at least he can babysit……)

    Just sayin’. I mean, providing that we are interested in solving the problem of the heightened risk to vulnerable women and their children from domestic violence, rather than using single motherhood as a political football and continuing the fairytale that we became single mothers from “careerism” and “having it all” and “finding ourselves” while kicking perfectly good men to the curb in search of hedonic pleasure.

  3. marilynn says:

    Karen
    I love that you have been on a posting spree lately. LOVE it. Are you being sarcastic about how your link relates to Elizabeth’s post like “choosing a donor is not choosing a partner wisely”? Cause that would be funny. I’m chomping at the bit to talk about that link though-

  4. marilynn says:

    Karen
    Got to talk about the link. If you linked it because you thought she is wonderful and compassionate, plug your ears. Nah not really. I want you to hear every word and give your opinion.

    I think her wellspring of concern for donor offspring is little more than disingenuous glad-handing for the benefit of her practice and others like it. I want to believe that she truly cares about donor offspring but she subsists upon the referrals she gets from the fertility doctors that she is partnering with. The doctors are running a business that arranges black market adoptions in the strictest of confidence. Her job is to get folks comfortable with raising donor offspring by telling them its perfectly OK so long as they are told the truth early and often. She’s a sales person Karen. Follow the money and read what she says.

    “Part of what I do at work is prepare people for the implications of using a donor.”

    “Yes, it’s confusing as a parent to know how much or when to disclose, but that confusion can be eradicated with some solid education and preparation. Part of what you sign up for when you build your family in a non-traditional way is that you will have to parent your child about how to deal with that difference.”

    Look how she has the solution K. If they tell the truth, the child they raise will become comfortable with playing the roll of their child and won’t view their estranged parent as having abandoned them.

    Look how she points out that the ethical fertility clinics refer patients to counselors like her and all clinics should refer patients and donors to counselors like her for the good of the children. The last paragraph is like an ad in the yellow pages.


    “until all couples and donors are required to consult with us so we have a chance to open everyone’s eyes early in the process, it will be an uphill battle. I conduct my consultations with donors and couples using ASRM’s ethical guidelines for third party reproduction. The guidelines are solid,”

    [no they're not]

    “but not mandatory, so if a clinic or agency chooses not to adhere to them, there is nothing anyone can do. Consequently, many people go into arrangements with donors pretty clueless about parenting issues and implications for their donor-conceived offspring. We need to change this situation. It’s not fair to donors, intended parents, and especially to donor-conceived children.”

    I use to think that gamete donation was ok if people were told the truth by having their parent’s names on their birth certificates but now I feel comfortable saying what I always thought – they’re buying human beings so its just not ok.