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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.  

September 22, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The domestic violence establishment is at it again. In the U.K., they’re trying to convince Parliament to change family court procedures to make it even easier for fathers to be removed from their children’s lives on the say-so of the kids’ mothers. According to a report by Women’s Aid, family courts routinely ignore allegations of violence made by women against their male partners. This, they say, results in fathers killing their children at alarming rates.

That essentially nothing these people say corresponds with known facts deters them not a whit. The end is what’s important to them and they’ll do just about anything to get there. The end of course is the further marginalization of fathers in children’s lives, made possible by increasing the power of mothers in family court. Naturally, the liberal wing of the news media can be counted on to act as cheerleader (The Guardian, 9/15/16).

What do the Members of Parliament who are currently riding this hobbyhorse have to back up their patently false claims? They have the claims of Women’s Aid, that’s what. The Women’s Aid report cites the fact that, in the 11 years from 2005 to 2015, 12 fathers killed 19 children in the U.K. Now, we all agree that those deaths are tragic and, if a family court judge (or anyone else) could have prevented them from happening and failed to do so, it only makes a horrible situation worse. Anyone with a heart feels deeply for the mothers who lost their children in such a way.

But.

Terrible as those deaths are, they’re still an average of one man killing about 1.5 children per year. This in a country that sees about 600,000 people die every year, including 600 intentional homicides. In short, though we all wish they’d somehow been prevented, the deaths of those children in no way amount to a reason to radically alter family court proceedings to increase mothers’ power over fathers. And make no mistake, that’s the purpose of the Women’s Aid report, the MP’s speeches and The Guardian’s article.

That’s made abundantly clear by the fact that from none of those sources is there even a peep about maternal abuse of children including murder. After all, if they were truly concerned about children’s safety, why would they only address a tiny aspect of the threat and why would they confine their concerns to just half the parental population? They do so because the report, the MPs’ speeches and The Guardian article are blatantly misandric and, more specifically, anti-father.

Otherwise, they’d have mentioned mothers like Tania Clarence (BBC, 11/23/15), Lianne Smith (Telegraph, 5/23/10) and countless others who murdered their children in the same time period. They might have even delved into the science on maternal infanticide and learned how prevalent it is and the reasons for it. They could even have discovered that, according to one study (British Journal of Psychiatry, 7/79), 40% of mothers who kill their children were physically abusive to them beforehand. Indeed, there’s a wealth of information on maternal filicide that the various opiners could have cited and would have, had their intention been to (a) protect children and/or (b) deal with the issue in a gender-neutral way.

But that wasn’t their intention, so none of that information was mentioned.

In lieu of science on the issue, needless to say, those seeking to further remove fathers from children’s lives relied on anecdotes.

The debate focused on many personal stories of women who had been subjected to violence and coercive control by their partners, only to have to face them again in the family courts when the men fought for child contact.

And, just as needless to say, none of those anecdotes were about women abusing or killing their children. Nor were they about family courts that routinely remove perfectly fit, loving fathers from their children’s lives. Nor did they mention that mothers are far more likely to abuse children than are fathers. And finally none of their anecdotes included mothers who get custody of children from family courts and go on to abuse or even kill them.

No, the narrative that’s being carefully constructed is the old familiar one of the domestic violence industry – that only men are abusive and that only women and children are victimized. And naturally, given that entirely false premise, an emergency must be declared and “reforms” immediately instituted to address same.

What are the “reforms” sought? Weirdly enough, Women’s Aid’s “solution” to the non-problem they’ve identified is to prohibit fathers who’ve been alleged to be violent from cross-examining mothers who so allege in court. Just how that’s a cure for the ill they’ve diagnosed, no one explains. But of course curtailing a basic aspect of due process of law (the right to confront witnesses against one) is the core of what Women’s Aid claims to be necessary to fix the “problem.” Why are we not surprised?

As I reported here, much the same thing is happening in the United States. The domestic violence industry has shown up in Washington with demands that, whenever there is a claim, however specious, of DV by one parent against another, no child custody orders can be made until the allegation has been thoroughly investigated by the family court. As a practical matter, that’s a bid to allow mothers to get sole temporary custody of children for months at least and possibly years while courts run down rabbit trails of DV claims. Having deprived the children of their dads for that period of time, it would then become all the easier to deprive him further when permanent orders are made.

In short, as in the U.K., DV activists (a) ignore the reality of DV in favor of a gendered version, (b) propose curtailing the legal rights of fathers in order to address (c) a “problem” that largely doesn’t exist for the purpose of (d) shoving fathers ever further out of their children’s lives.

I’m beginning to see a pattern here. It’s a pattern that finds no support in the reality of domestic violence, the reality of child abuse, the reality of children’s welfare or the reality of what goes on in family courts. It’s the same anti-male crusade that the DV industry has been waging since the early 70s and is as factually and morally wrong then as now. That a few politicians and the usual media lapdogs still buy what the DV industry is selling is beyond disgraceful. It seeks to make matters worse, not better.

 

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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.

#domesticviolence, #familycourts, #childabuse, #maternalinfanticide

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