According to this article, students as young as 11 are starting to get “educated” about dating violence (New York Times, 6/3/12). It’s a two-page article, and it says a lot about children in middle school, their need to know about healthy relationships and the fact that dating violence occurs among teenagers and even younger kids. Curiously though, it doesn’t say what the kids are being taught, and that makes me uneasy. If the article itself is any reflection of the messages these youngsters are receiving, I’m right to be.
The article never comes out and says anything like “boys abuse girls, but girls don’t abuse boys.” No, it’s scrupulously gender-neutral in that regard. But from start to finish, all its examples of dating violence feature the boy as perpetrator and the girl as victim. And if the curriculum is anything like the article, that’s bad news. The younger people are when they learn false information, the harder it is to convince them later that it’s wrong.
The truth about dating violence among young people is well known. This article by the excellent Richard Davis covers the topic well (NCFM, 11/11/11). It also covers the blatant hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty of the DV establishment. As is so often the case with DV generally, with dating violence only the figures about female victims get published in the press or in the press releases of the organizations doing the research. For example, the Centers for Disease Control came out with a new and highly flawed study of domestic violence not long ago. Its press release ballyhooed the finding that almost a third of women would experience intimate partner violence in their lifetimes. Nowhere was it mentioned that the figure for men was 28.9%. Neither did the press release nor the spokespeople for the survey publicize the fact that 6.8% of men versus 6.5% of women said they’d been victimized in the previous year.
And so it is with dating violence. As Davis points out, when the Liz Claiborne Institute did a study of teen dating violence, one of the key findings it chose to publicize was that 35% of girls are concerned about being victimized by a partner. What it neglected to mention was that 25% of boys felt the same way. Far worse, it buried the fact that “17% of boys and 13% of females report that their partner hit, slapped or pushed them.” In other words, the greater incidence of actual male victimization was of less importance to LCI than girls’ concerns about the possibility of victimization. Needless to say, the role of LCI and the rest of the DV establishment in creating that concern on the part of girls went unremarked.
I suspect that same dynamic is at work when teen attitudes about domestic violence are surveyed. Here’s one finding from a survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Education Views, 4/1/12):
Moreover, while only 7 percent of students strongly agreed it was acceptable for a boy to hit his girlfriend under certain circumstances, half agreed that it was okay for a girl to do so.To me that looks like a direct reflection of the anti-male bias that’s systematically been taught by the domestic violence establishment over the last four decades or so.
So we’re now teaching middle-schoolers about dating violence, but what are we teaching them? If the past is any indication, we’re foisting the same tired untruths on them that we’ve foisted on everyone else – “Men do it; women don’t.” ”Men are dangerous; women aren’t.” ”Don’t trust men; women are OK.” In a survey of its own, the organization Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (S.A.V.E.) found that some 90% of claims made by organizations funded by the Violence Against Women Act were either false, misleading or distorted.
Needless to say, all this false information redounds to the detriment of fathers in divorce court. We’ve been teaching false claims about domestic violence for almost 40 years now and the unsurprising result has been that, despite all the evidence on the value of fathers to children, dads are routinely shoved aside in custody cases. The primary reason for that is claims of abuse by mothers, with no adverse consequences for false swearing. Judges, mediators, social workers, custody evaluators, psychologists and the like who’ve been taught that only men commit domestic violence go on to opine and rule in favor of mothers.
It’s a system designed to marginalize fathers in the lives of their children and, diabolically, it works. Unless I miss my guess, the middle-school kids in the article are getting the same agitprop the rest of us have gotten. That’ll only prolong the twin dysfunctions called “family courts” and “the domestic violence system.” Both need radical reform to reflect what social science has taught us for decades – that children need both parents and that men and women are equally apt to commit domestic violence.