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Just when you thought they couldn"t sink any lower, down they go. Just when you thought you"d seen the extremes of their desperation, they come up with this (The Age, 6/24/10). The anti-dad crowd in Australia has vowed to roll back the 2006 amendments to the Family Law Act since the minute they took effect. Since then they"ve spit out a regular stream of agitprop and disinformation aimed at reversing the quite meager gains of fathers represented by the amendments. The salient feature of all these efforts has been their singularly threadbare nature. I"ve said it before; if this is the best they have, the future of fathers" rights to their children and children"s rights to their dads is bright. As Pat Benatar used to sing, "Hit me with your best shot!' Well, apparently they have, but I confess, I didn"t feel a thing. The linked-to article attacks equally shared parenting on the tired old basis that dads are violent and so shouldn"t have equal contact with their children. As by now most people know – and surely policy makers in Australia know – the vast majority of child abuse and neglect is done by mothers, not fathers. Boyfriends of single mothers provide their share as well. In the United States, for example, in no year in which the Administration for Children and Families has been keeping comparative statistics have mothers committed less than twice the abuse and neglect that fathers have. So the old "dads are dangerous' snake oil is finding fewer and fewer buyers. But that"s all the anti-dad crowd has to sell, so they keep hawking the product in ever more strident voices. Their latest effort relies, as you might expect, on a study. But before we get to that, we should take a look at the central fallacy of the piece, conveniently stated in its first sentence.
The Family Law Act is failing to protect children from ongoing trauma at the hands of abusive and violent fathers, a study has found.
Now we must set aside the fact that the study found no such thing. We must in fact set aside almost every single thing about the study as surely policy-makers will. But more about that later. The article attacks the 2006 amendments because they are "failing to protect children…' So, does that mean that the Family Law Act prior to the amendments did protect children from parental violence? If so, countless DV advocates from before 2006 have a lot of explaining to do. In fact, neither the Family Law Act prior to the amendments nor afterward promised to shield children from harm at the hands of their parents. And of course neither law has done so. But it"s only when a law shows the potential for giving fathers, for the first time in modern history, real power to assert their own parental rights, that the anti-dad crowd cries ‘foul." If these people gave a tinker"s ‘damn" about protecting children, they"d have been clamoring for fathers" rights all along, for the simple reason that, if statistics are any indication, fathers protect at least as well as mothers. But they didn"t and they don"t, and that tells us all we need to know about their true agenda. Now to that study. The simple fact that The Age devotes an entire article to it says a lot. The study itself is so marginal, so obviously distorted by a political agenda that it"s essentially useless. What, for example, does the fact that it found no one to fund it tell you? Or contemplate its methodology: gender feminist DV advocates "recruited' people from DV shelters to tell their stories of abuse, and those same advocates found a grand total of 22 women who met their criteria. What were those criteria? What did a woman have to do or say to be chosen? The article doesn"t tell us and neither does the "study.' As badly done as the study is, it"s better than the article. At least the study admits that its "sample is not representative' and therefore its "findings cannot be generalised' to the population at large. The article ignores those caveats entirely. Add to all that the fact that the study of 22 women is 104 pages long. That"s because it consists mostly of quotations by the subjects that the authors thought supported their pre-set political ideas. So, despite its length, the study is astonishingly lacking in detail. For example, of the 22 carefully-chosen women, only three had a former partner who was actually convicted of some form of assault. Indeed, the most frequent abuse complained of was "emotional/psychological, financial, using children, using the system to abuse,' with actual physical abuse listed only after all those others. That information would intrigue a reader more interested than the author of The Age piece, but the nitty-gritty details are left out. Of course almost everything of importance is left out to make way for the polemics of the study. To put it charitably, the study consists of selected quotations by a very small number of selected individuals whose statements support the political views of its authors. Again, this is the best they have? The article ends by claiming that the study,
will put further pressure on federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland to amend the Family Law Act.
No, even if amending the Act were up to the Attorney General, the anti-dad crowd will have to come up with something better than this to stem the tide of fathers" rights to their children and children"s rights to the fathers.

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