24 Sep Fight the Entire Battle
September 20, 2012
From the Desk of Carol Soelberg:
“… I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child – a direct killing of the innocent child – murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another… Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.”(Mother Teresa, National Prayer Breakfast 1994)
Mother Teresa eloquently reminds us of the scourge of abortion. Today Melissa Anderson reminds us that there is much more to being pro-life than simply being against abortion. She challenges us to become more aware of the serious nature and prevalence of child abuse.
We also want to point out that abortion is a symptom – a symptom of a society that has jettisoned traditional moral values, disconnected the sex act and childbearing from marriage, placed adult needs above those of children, and lost focus on the crucial nature of traditional marriage. The sexual liberty ethic of the last 40 or so years demands consequence-free, no-strings attached sex while producing a vacuum of personal responsibility, skyrocketing cohabitation rates, profound family fragmentation, millions of lives lost to abortion and nanny-state governments burdened with unsustainable debt all the while failing miserably in their attempt to fill the role of strong intact married families.
You might guess that the lowest rate of abortion occurs with married couples and you would be right. But did you know that the highest rate of abortion occurs not with women who become pregnant from the fleeting or “one-night stand” type relationship, but the highest abortion rate occurs with women in a “live-in” cohabiting relationship. When you speak of child abuse, the most dangerous place for a child is with the biological mother who is cohabiting with a man who is not the child’s father. (See the compilation of studies below.)
Family structure matters! You want to prevent child abuse and slow the rate of abortion, then rebuild an ethic of stable marriage and strong families! That is what United Families International is all about. Please join us in this effort!
With elections right around the corner, the growing spotlight of the day is on the problems our country, our government, our society is facing. Unemployment, inflation, wars and budget crises loom while political party rages against political party. But while political dissention rumbles, there is one issue that worries me perhaps more than any other issue of the day: violence against children. Although I understand that financial turmoil can cause stress in the home, violence against children is born in the choice of the caretaker to actually care for the child or to make the child the recipient of frustration, abuse and neglect.
When I say violence against children, I am directly speaking to children at all stages of growth and life. When I say violence against children, I am speaking to abortion, abuse, neglect and the prideful indifference for life that gives rise to each. We cannot build strong communities on the backs of child victims. The mantra of the Pro-life movement should be the protection of children at all stages.
Pro-life is not simply pro-birth. Pro-life is exactly that: for life. It is being for the growth, the nurture, the education and careful upbringing of each child. Isn’t it just as heinous to beat, starve, neglect and otherwise abuse a child as it is to rip a child from a mother’s womb? As a society, shouldn’t we fight against one just as strongly as against the other?
I am mindful that many would argue that the answer to child abuse is in preventing the birth of the child altogether. How absolutely untrue! Having been raised in a home where sexual abuse, physical abuse, torture and neglect abounded, I am grateful that I was at least given the opportunity to breathe, to have a heartbeat, to feel the sun on my skin. Abortion is not and never was the answer to child abuse. They are both symptoms of the same disease.
I understand that a mother who beats her child, if nothing else, has given her child life, but what of that life? A life of violent nightmares? A life of drug abuse, alcoholism and teen pregnancy? Abused children are more likely to abuse drugs, become pregnant as teenagers and suffer mental illness. In fact, survivors of child abuse suffer a much higher rate of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder than combat veterans. Think about that. Think about the seven year old boy in whose head rages more terrible images than the hardened combat veterans of fighting nations.
Pro-life should be pro-life all the way through. Pro-life must protect the life of children before and after birth. A person who is truly pro-life should not only be advocating against abortion, but should also be advocating against the abuse of children. We have no right to claim to fight for life if we are not willing to protect and advocate for that child after birth as well as before. I do not, nor can I, believe that the answer to abuse is in the killing of our children before they can emerge for breath. The answer is in respecting life at all stages. The answer is in strengthening families and in doing so strengthening communities.
This month I ask you to become more aware of the problem of child abuse. Perhaps you can find a program in your community and volunteer to work for abused and neglected children. What a great gift strong families can give by being a mother or a father to an abused child whose first parents refused to do so. After you make sure that your own family is strong, then get out and support public policy that shores up the understanding that children have the right to be born within marriage to a father and a mother who take their marital vows seriously and then rear each of their children with tender care and love.
Studies on Child Abuse
Children living in homes occupied by their mothers’ boyfriends or other non-relatives, are up to 48 times more likely to die from child abuse than those who live with two biological parents. Households with a single parent and no other adults had no increased risk of fatal injury. Patricia G. Schnitzer and Bernard G. Ewigman, “Child Deaths Resulting From Inflicted Injuries: Household Risk Factors and Perpetrator Characteristics,” Pediatrics 116, 5 (2005): e687-e693.
Child abuse has dramatically increased in recent decades by more than 10 percent a year according to one estimate. Researchers suggest that this increase is related strongly to changing family forms. Andrea J. Sedlak and Diane Broadhurst, “The Third National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect,” (Washington, DC: HHS-National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, 1996.
Evidence suggests that the least safe of all environments for children is that in which the mother is living with someone other than the child’s biological father. This is the environment for the majority of children in cohabiting couple households. David Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, “Should We Live Together? What Young Couples Need to Know about Cohabitation Before Marriage,” National Marriage Project, 1999.
A British study found that children living with cohabiting biological parents who are unmarried are 20 times more likely to be abused and children whose mother lives with a boyfriend who is not the biological father are 33 times more likely to be abused than children living with married biological parents. Robert Whelan, “Broken Homes and Battered Children, 1993. Patrick Fagan and Kirk A. Johnson, “Marriage: The Safest place for Women and Children,” The Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder Report no. 1535, 10 April, 2002. p. 3,http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/BG1535.cfm
An analysis of child abuse cases in a nationally-represented sample of 42 countries found that children from single-parent families are more likely to be victims of physical and sexual abuse than children who live with both biological parents. Compared to their peers living with both parents, children living in single-parent homes faced:
* 77 percent greater risk of being physically abused;
* 87 percent greater risk of being harmed by physical neglect;
* 165 percent greater risk of experiencing notable physical neglect;
* 74 percent greater risk of suffering from emotional neglect;
* 80 percent greater risk of suffering from serious injury or harm as a result of abuse or neglect;
* Overall, 120 percent greater risk of being endangered by some type of child abuse or neglect.
Andrea Sedlak and Diane Broadhurst, The National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. (1996): xviii, 5-19.
Between 1976 and 1987, alone, there was a 330-percent increase in the reported cases of child abuse. While a portion of this increase is due to better reporting, experts agree that these figures reflect a real trend toward ever higher rates of abuse. These figures clearly contradict the claim of pro-abortionists that abortion of “unwanted children” prevents child abuse. Ignoring the obvious illogic of suggesting that killing children is better than beating them, there is not a single scientific study that supports this theory. Instead, there is a clear statistical association between increased rates of abortion and increased rates of child abuse. Indeed, statistical and clinical research supports not only an association, but a
causal connection between abortion and subsequent child abuse. T. Burke and D. Reardon, “Abortion Trauma and Child Abuse,” Originally published in The PostAbortion Review 6(1) Spring 1998.
In 1960, 87.7 percent of children under 18 lived with married parents. By 1995, that percentage had dropped to 68.7 percent. By 2005, that percentage had dropped to 57 percent. U.S. Census Bureau, “Living Arrangements of Children Under 18 Years Old: 1960 to Present,” Washington, D.C., June 29, 2001. Available atwww.census.gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam/tabCh-2.txt U.S. Census Bureau Newsroom, “Majority of Children Live with Two Biological Parents,” 2008,
Mothers in maltreating families were younger, had shorter birth intervals, less prenatalcare and were significantly more likely to have had a stillbirth or reported abortion or a prior child death. Abusive families appeared at significantly higher risk for increased number of stillbirths or abortions before the current birth. Ninety-seven (18.2%) abuse mothers previously had one or more stillbirths or abortions as compared to 66 (12.4%) of the non-abuse mothers. M. Benedict, R. White and P. Cornely, P., “Maternal Perinatal Risk Factors and Child Abuse” Child Abuse and Neglect 9:217-224 (1985).
Melissa Anderson is a lawyer in San Antonio, Texas. She is the mother of seven crazily adorable children and an author of children’s books. In her spare time, Melissa volunteers extensively with Court Appointed Special Advocates educating the community on issues related to child abuse and neglect.