My Turn: Use abuse information to clarify, not confuse

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2001

This is a response, from a single mother, to the article printed on June 12 by Jim Scholz entitled "Look at Full Spectrum of Family Violence."

I have read both Scholz' article and the response to this article by Mr. Clark. I am pleased to see this response and saddened that Mr. Clark feels embarrassed for his gender. Unfortunately, the statistics given by Scholz do not equate to women being inherently more violent than men, or that they are bad parents. Rather, it suggests that women have a tough job; juggling motherhood and child care, household duties and possibly employment. Acknowledging these issues is the first step to changing our legal framework and cultural attitudes toward families and parenting.

Scholz' article was copied, nearly word for word from the Revs. Sam and Bunny Sewell, and can be found on the Web at: Follow the link to Click on links, then go to politics, anti-feminism, and scroll down to sex and family life and click on family violence. To see this hate speech from these inflammatory Web sites duplicated in my local paper was disturbing to me.

There exists in our society a system of power, control and domination, which suppresses the rights of many individuals and perpetuates violence, particularly against women and children.

I would like to address the gender disparity: Although women are less likely than men to be victims of violent crimes overall, women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner (U.S. Department of Justice).

In 92 percent of all domestic violence incidents, crimes are committed by men against women. Women may strike out or attempt to defend themselves, but they are not usually the perpetrator. In addition, one in four women are sexually assaulted by age 18, and over 80 percent of the perpetrators are male. This information leads me to seriously doubt that women could be more violent than men, if even equal to men in the arena of abuse.

In addressing child abuse, the National Incidence Reports show that the role of abuse is much less when a child lives with both biological parents, 14 times higher if the child lives only with the mother, 20 times higher when the child lives only with the father and 33 times higher when one of the biological parents lives with a partner other than the biological parent.

Risk factors for the presence of abuse include a lack of social support, poverty and other similar stresses. I do not believe that isolating single mothers, or women in general, will help in understanding the full spectrum of family violence. Current trends indicate that by the year 2015 one of every two babies born in the United States will be born to single mothers. Fortunately, we, as a community can strengthen family and community supports to those who live with any type of abuse, including men, women and children.

We should:

Value every parent's contribution to their child's growth and development, and create opportunities for families to empower themselves through good decisions and healthy lifestyles.

Respect the integrity of all family types, single or other.

Enhance the integration of services needed by families and provide 24-hour support.

Create an awareness of violence in our community and promote the healing of all families who are facing abuse issues.

Educate our community as to the dangers of violence and its impact on children, as well as the difficulty single parents face.

Ask ourselves how we can involve both the mother and father in their role in the child's life without denigrating the importance of both.

Information has the ability to clarify issues and provoke us to re-think our positions. It is not intended to confuse or blame.

Nicole Davidson is a UAS graduate and has been a Juneau resident for seven years.

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