NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

June 17, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

It’s almost Fathers’ Day, so we must be ready for the annual spate of articles denigrating dads. The dad-hating has diminished over the past few years, but there are always a few stalwarts ready to trot out tired, disproven claims solely for the sake of convincing whoever will listen that fathers generally are nefarious louts, not to be trusted with much of anything, particularly their kids.

So here of course is the aptly-named Rosie Batty quoted in, of course, The Guardian (The Guardian, 6/15/16). For those of you looking for a bumper sticker, allow me to suggest “Batty Is.”

The piece can be summarized thus: (1) shared parenting laws are a bad idea because (2) they allow violent fathers to have custody of children and (3) judges don’t care about (2). Her evidence for any of that? None. That of course is no surprise given that every word of it is at best dubious and at worst, down right untrue.

“All too often, survivors even with proof have their fears written off as anxiety or obsession. Minimised or dismissed. Accused of exaggerating or manipulating the system.

“Children who say they are afraid, or bravely disclose their own abuse, are routinely seen as having had their minds influenced and poisoned by their mother’s animosity towards the father and are not believed.

“The court can then order these very same children to continue to spend time with, or even live with, the alleged abuser – a truly diabolical and unacceptable situation.”

Citation? Right, she has none. Batty’s happy to recycle claims that have never been proven to have the slightest basis in fact. Indeed, when he was toiling in the fathers’ rights vineyards, Glenn Sacks established a small cottage industry debunking, case by case, those very claims. It was truly amazing to watch, as each new case arose, Glenn get down to the actual facts. In every one the judge had not only given every benefit of the doubt to the accusing mother, but expert after expert revealed her to be either simply making up claims or mentally unstable.

And those were the cases people like Batty offered to support their side of the issue. They literally had not a single case with which to prove their point. So it’s no surprise that Batty doesn’t name any either, preferring to use terms like “all too often,” “routinely,” and the like.

Now, to be clear, I’d be shocked if there were no such cases. After all, with one million divorces being filed every year in the United States alone, surely a judge has erred now and then. It’s inconceivable that exactly what Batty describes has never occurred. But the occasional judicial error isn’t what Batty’s claiming. She’s alleging a common occurrence. For that she has no evidence whatsoever.

It’s not just Batty that’s the problem with The Guardian article, though. The writer, Paul Karp, neglected to interview anyone with a contrary opinion. That, I suppose, is what passes for “balance” at The Guardian. It never ceases to amaze me that, when it comes to shared parenting, those opposed routinely ignore the first lesson of Journalism 101 – get both sides of the story.

The one other person quoted is “domestic violence expert” Danny Blay.

“Lots of women are advised not to raise [the issue of domestic violence] because they’re going to be hauled over the coals, told they’re lying, it’s too difficult, too traumatic, just go for an easier option.

Again, citation please. Of course there is none for the good and sufficient reason that there is nothing on which to base the claim that lawyers, as a rule, or even occasionally, urge women to not raise legitimate issues of IPV or family violence.

What we do have is the opposite. Fairly high profile lawyers in this country, like the former head of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Family Law Section called false allegations of DV an epidemic and said they’re routinely used to gain an advantage in child custody cases. Batty of course knows none of this.

Now, in case anyone should be so foolish as to believe that Batty was being gender-neutral in her approach to the issue of parental DV and child custody, well, you just don’t know Rosie.

Batty outlined the Women’s Legal Services Australia’s five point plan which calls for special priority for domestic violence cases in family law courts; reducing trauma for victims, including by banning perpetrators cross-examining them; and increasing legal aid for family violence survivors.

The other proposed planks are to increase family law professionals’ awareness of family violence and supporting women and children financially, including considering family violence when dividing property.

Yes, there’s not a word in there about violence by women or mothers. That’s just par for the course when DV zealots like Batty open their mouths. For 40 + years we’ve had evidence that women and men are equally violent in intimate relationships, and for at least 25 years we’ve known it to a certainty. But faced with incontrovertible facts of the matter, the DV industry just keeps on reciting the same old nonsense: men are violent, women are not; women are victims, men are not.

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a piece on the latest DV data out of Statistics Canada, the government’s statistical agency. It showed that, according to Canadians, 55% of DV is committed by women, that most “severe” DV is committed by women and that lesbian relationships are by far the most violent of all. But Batty and others like her will never mention the facts. They’re heavily invested in keeping fathers out of children’s lives and they’re not about to change just because overwhelming amounts of data from countless different sources demand it.

Which brings me to an obvious point: Batty’s right. Courts really do hand custody to abusers. They do it every day, many times a day. The trouble though is that the abusers getting custody are mothers. Again, it’s likely that, here and there, an abusive father has been the beneficiary of a custody order, but overwhelmingly that honor goes to mothers.

Obvious and well-known facts make the matter all too clear. Mothers get sole or primary custody of children over 80% of the time. They also commit 40% of the abuse of children compared with fathers’ 20%. Of children taken from their parents due to neglect, 95% were neglected by their mothers. Of children taken due to abuse, about 67% were abused by their mothers. Those last two figures come from an Urban Institute study.

Given all that, how likely is it that none of those abusive or neglectful mothers are divorced and received sole or primary custody from some judge? So yes, Ms. Batty, judges do give custody to abusive parents, just not the ones you mean.

But I must admit that the medal for abject craziness and hypocrisy must go to Blay.

Asked about potential backlash to the proposals by so-called Men’s Rights’ Activists, Blay said such people “are doing a huge disservice to men”.

“Ultimately, what they’re doing is they are pouring petrol on a fire and they are reinforcing men’s beliefs that there is a conspiracy against them that all women are stupid and out to get them and we know better and that kind of stuff and it doesn’t end up working well for them.”

Don’t you just love it when writer for a rag like The Guardian, instead of, you know, picking up the phone and talking to an actual “Men’s Rights Activist,” relies on someone who (a) opposes fathers’ rights in family courts and (b) knows nothing about Men’s Rights Activists. But the real bullet Karp saves for last.

He said a “much gentler conversation” was required if the broader men’s movement is serious about engaging effectively with men.

Well isn’t that special. Yes, by all means, we should have a “gentler conversation.” Perhaps that conversation should include gentle notions like “all DV is committed by men” and “women don’t commit domestic violence.” And surely it should exclude known facts about DV that consistently paint women in a bad light. And of course it should never acknowledge child abuse by women.

That’s Blay’s idea of being “gentle.” Gentle is the status quo that sidelines fathers in children’s lives, doing untold damage to both. Gentle is the spike in suicide rates for divorced dads. Gentle is crime and depression and alcohol and drug abuse by fatherless kids.

Truly disgraceful. Beneath contempt.

Oh, BTW, Happy Fathers’ Day!




National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization

National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

#sharedparenting, #domesticviolence.childabuse, #childneglect

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