Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Are biological fathers or unrelated men more dangerous for children?

This article from the Weekly Standard answers the question.

Excerpt:

A March 1996 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics contains some interesting findings that indicate just how widespread the problem may be. In a nationally representative survey of state prisoners jailed for assaults against or murders of children, fully one-half of respondents reported the victim was a friend, acquaintance, or relative other than offspring. (All but 3 percent of those who committed violent crimes against children were men.) A close relationship between victim and victimizer is also suggested by the fact that three-quarters of all the crimes occurred in either the perpetrator’s home or the victim’s.

A 1994 paper published in the Journal of Comparative Family Studies looked at 32,000 documented cases of child abuse. Of the victims, only 28 percent lived with both biological parents (far fewer than the 68 percent of all children who live with both parents); 44 percent lived with their mother only (as do 25 percent of all children); and 18 percent lived with their mother and an unrelated adult (double the 9 percent of all children who live with their mother and an unrelated adult).

These findings mirror a 1993 British study by the Family Education Trust, which meticulously explored the relationship between family structure and child abuse. Using data on documented cases of abuse in Britain between 1982 and 1988, the report found a high correlation between child abuse and the marital status of the parents.

Specifically, the British study found that the incidence of abuse was an astounding 33 times higher in homes where the mother was cohabiting with an unrelated boyfriend than in stable nuclear families. Even when the boyfriend was the children’s biological father, the chances of abuse were twice as high.

These findings are consonant with those published a year earlier by Leslie Margolin of the University of Iowa in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect. Prof. Margolin found that boyfriends were 27 times more likely than natural parents to abuse a child. The next-riskiest group, siblings, were only twice as likely as parents to abuse a child.

More recently, a report by Dr. Michael Stiffman presented at the latest meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in October, studied the 175 Missouri children under the age of 5 who were murdered between 1992 and 1994. It found that the risk of a child’s dying at the hands of an adult living in the child’s own household was eight times higher if the adult was biologically unrelated.

The Heritage Foundation’s Patrick Fagan discovered that the number of child-abuse cases appeared to rise in the 1980s along with the general societal acceptance of cohabitation before, or instead of, marriage. That runs counter to the radical-feminist view, which holds that marriage is an oppressive male institution of which violence is an integral feature. If that were true, then child abuse and domestic violence should have decreased along with the rise in cohabitation.

Heritage also found that in the case of very poor children (those in households earning less than $ 15,000 per year), 75 percent lived in a household where the biological father was absent. And 50 percent of adults with less than a high-school education lived in cohabitation arrangements. “This mix — poverty, lack of education, children, and cohabitation — is an incubator for violence,” Fagan says.

Why, then, do we ignore the problem? Fagan has a theory: “It is extremely politically incorrect to suggest that living together might not be the best living arrangement.”

The moral of the story is that it is a lot safer for children if we promote marriage as a way of attaching mothers and fathers to their children. Fathers who have a biological connection to children are a lot less likely to harm them. And a lot of social problems like child poverty, promiscuity and violence cannot be solved by replacing a father with a check from the government. We need to support fathers by empowering them in their traditional roles. Let the men lead.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Should welfare be paid to able-bodied Americans indefinitely? Is dependency good for people?

Nancy P. posted this article from the Heritage Foundation, and I thought it would make a good blog post.

Excerpt:

Food stamp rolls have been growing rapidly. But what many may not realize is that participation among able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) has been skyrocketing compared to the total number of participants. That’s just one reason Congress should reform the food stamp program in the farm bill now under consideration. In just four years, the number of able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) on the food stamp rolls skyrocketed by over 2 million. While overall food stamp use grew by 53 percent between Fiscal Year 2007 and Fiscal Year 2010 (from about 26 million to nearly 40 million), it more than doubled among able-bodied adults without dependents during this time–from 1.7 million to 3.9 million–an increase of  roughly 127 percent.  Food stamp spending today is roughly $80 billion, double what it was in Fiscal Year 2008.

[...]While the recession no doubt plays into the increases in food stamp participation, policy loopholes have opened the doors to boost growth as well In his 2009 stimulus bill, Obama allowed states to waive the modest ABAWD work provision (which says that after 3 months ABAWDs must work or perform some type of work activity for 20 hours per week to remain on food stamps).

With the work waivers in place, ABAWDs can stay on food stamps for an unlimited amount of time without working or preparing for work. Without a work requirement  it is difficult to ensure food stamps are not going to those who could otherwise work.  A work requirement acts as a gatekeeper: those who really need assistance can still get it, while those who may not really need it will be deterred, thus targeting resources to the truly needy. It also encourages individuals to move towards work, and it can provide job training and other employment help.

Self-sufficiency for able-bodied adults should be the goal of any sound welfare policy. Unfortunately, most of the government’s 80-plus welfare programs–including food stamps–aren’t focused in this direction.

Helping those in need means helping them rise above government dependence. Unfortunately, self-sufficiency seems to be kicked to the bottom of the list all too often when it comes to reforming the nation’s broken welfare system. It’s time for Congress to realize that helping individuals means a hand-up, not merely a handout.

A long time ago, there was a reasonable, temporary safety net that was available to people who were in real need of relief. But now it seems as if the government is spending alot of money on these programs, and often to people who are not trying to get out of their dependency situation on their own.

Here is what I do not want to have happen:

  1. Government confiscates the earnings of job creators and employees through taxation
  2. Government keeps some fraction of the money for their salaries, benefits and pensions
  3. Government gives some of the money to Planned Parenthood and Solyndra
  4. Government gives some money to people who are likely to vote for them
  5. The people who get the money vote for bigger government, and are discouraged from working
  6. The children of the people who are dependent on government see a bad example of dependency

It seems to me that if you look in the Bible, there is no support for government-controlled redistribution of wealth as a cure for “poverty”. There is support there for industry and business, and voluntary charity. Most of the poverty in the USA is, in my opinion, either caused by government policies or caused by individual decisions, like dropping out of school or having children before marriage. This is a wealthy country, and people are very generous with charity. They would be even more generous if government were more limited so that they could keep more of their own money for charity. I think the problem with the left is that they think that people don’t give to charity, since they don’t, and must be forced to pay taxes. But we on the right are not like you. I would rather give away twice as much as I pay in taxes rather than pay what I pay in taxes. I love charity, and the only thing stopping me from giving away more is taxes.

This previous post about earned success references a Wall Street Journal article written by Arthur Brooks (president of the American Enterprise Institute) is also relevant, I think.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , ,

Food stamp president: nearly 16 million more people getting food stamps since Obama’s election

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

 Since taking office in 2009, food stamp rolls under President Barack Obama have risen to more than 47 million people in America, exceeding the population of Spain.

“Now is the time to act boldly and wisely – to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity,” said Obama during his first joint session address to Congress on Feb. 24, 2009.

Since then, the number of participants enrolled in food stamps, known as the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP), has risen substantially.

When Obama entered office in January 2009 there were 31,939,110 Americans receiving food stamps.  As of November 2012—the most recent data available—there were 47,692,896Americans enrolled, an increase of 49.3 percent.

Not only are we borrowing trillions of dollars to pay for all these handouts, but being dependent on government is not good for people.

Arthur Brooks explains in the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Earned success means defining your future as you see fit and achieving that success on the basis of merit and hard work. It allows you to measure your life’s “profit” however you want, be it in money, making beautiful music, or helping people learn English. Earned success is at the root of American exceptionalism.

The link between earned success and life satisfaction is well established by researchers. The University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, for example, reveals that people who say they feel “very successful” or “completely successful” in their work lives are twice as likely to say they are very happy than people who feel “somewhat successful.” It doesn’t matter if they earn more or less income; the differences persist.

The opposite of earned success is “learned helplessness,” a term coined by Martin Seligman, the eminent psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. It refers to what happens if rewards and punishments are not tied to merit: People simply give up and stop trying to succeed.

During experiments, Mr. Seligman observed that when people realized they were powerless to influence their circumstances, they would become depressed and had difficulty performing even ordinary tasks. In an interview in the New York Times, Mr. Seligman said: “We found that even when good things occurred that weren’t earned, like nickels coming out of slot machines, it did not increase people’s well-being. It produced helplessness. People gave up and became passive.”

Learned helplessness was what my wife and I observed then, and still do today, in social-democratic Spain. The recession, rigid labor markets, and excessive welfare spending have pushed unemployment to 24.4%, with youth joblessness over 50%. Nearly half of adults under 35 live with their parents. Unable to earn their success, Spaniards fight to keep unearned government benefits.

Meanwhile, their collective happiness—already relatively low—has withered. According to the nonprofit World Values Survey, 20% of Spaniards said they were “very happy” about their lives in 1981. This fell to 14% by 2007, even before the economic downturn.

If we really cared about people, we would give incentives to job creators (“the rich”) to create jobs for them. Earned success makes people happy.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New study: feminism in education causes boys to underperform academically

From the Belfast Telegraph.

Excerpt:

A five-year study of hundreds of post-primary pupils in Northern Ireland has found flaws in our education system that could be hindering boys’ ability to learn.

The research — funded by the Departments of Education and Justice — was carried out following concerns about boys’ educational underachievement, health and well-being.

It has previously been noted as a particular problem among boys from working-class Protestant areas.

Key findings of the ‘Taking Boys Seriously’ report, by Dr Ken Harland and Sam McCready from the University of Ulster, include:

  • A lack of basic literacy and numeracy skills from primary school which is not being dealt with early post-primary.
  • Boys from lower academic class streams perceiving they are not given the same opportunities to learn as those from higher.
  • Boys being unprepared for key transitional stages (such as moving schools or moving from junior stream into senior) during adolescence.
  • Bullying.
  • The formal nature of the classroom leaving a significant number of boys feeling bored, frustrated and impacting negatively on their concentration.

The study of 378 male pupils from nine post-primary schools across Northern Ireland quizzed the boys annually between Years 8 and 12.

[...]Recommendations in the 114-page report include:

  • Encouraging more males into teaching.
  • Teacher training should support teachers to understand the changing needs of adolescent boys.

Life Site News adds:

The problem of boys’ underachievement in primary and secondary school follows them into their later lives. Research from 2006 has tracked the decline in male academic performance over the same period as the rise of feminist-dominated ideologies in academia and policymaking.

The ratio of males to females graduating from a four-year college stood at 1.60 in 1960, fell to parity by 1980, and continued its decline until by 2003, there were 135 females for every 100 males who graduated from a four-year college. Another study found that half of the current gender gap in college attendance can be linked to lower rates of high-school graduation among males, particularly for young black men.

The work of one American researcher may offer clues to the question of why and how. Professor Christopher Cornwell at the University of Georgia has found that a heavily feminist-driven education paradigm systematically favours girls and disadvantages boys from their first days in school.

Examining student test scores and grades of children in kindergarten through fifth grade, Cornwell found that boys in all racial categories are not being “commensurately graded by their teachers” in any subject “as their test scores would predict.”

The answer lies in the way teachers, who are statistically mostly women, evaluate students without reference to objective test scores. Boys are regularly graded well below their actual academic performance.

Boys are falling significantly behind in grades, “despite performing as least as well as girls on math tests, and significantly better on science tests.”

After fifth grade, he found, student assessment becomes a matter of “a teacher’s subjective assessment of the student’s performance,” and is further removed from the guidance of objective test results. Teachers, he says, tend to assess students on non-cognitive, “socio-emotional skills.” This has had a significant impact on boys’ later achievement because, while objective test scores are important, it is teacher-assigned grades that determine a child’s future with class placement, high school graduation and college admissibility.

Eliminating the factor of “non-cognitive skills…almost eliminates the estimated gender gap in reading grades,” Cornwell found. He said he found it “surprising” that although boys out-perform girls on math and science test scores, girls out-perform boys on teacher-assigned grades.

In science and general knowledge, as in math skills, the data showed that kindergarten and first grade white boys’ grades “are lower by 0.11 and 0.06 standard deviations, even though their test scores are higher.” This disparity continues and grows through to the fifth grade, with white boys and girls being graded similarly, “but the disparity between their test performance and teacher assessment grows.”

[...]The study, he said, shows that “teachers’ assessments are not aligned with test-score data, with greater gender disparities in appearing in grading than testing outcomes”. And the “gender disparity” always favours girls.

This is why I recommend homeschooling for boys especially up until grade 6 or later, when grading is more objective. And boys should focus on math, science, technology and engineering, where there is less room for discrimination by feminist teachers who are biased against boys. Unfortunately, even though you are homeschooling, you still have to pay taxes for the feminist-dominated public school system, which enjoys overwhelming support from women voters, especially single women voters.

The best book on this topic is by Christina Hoff Sommers, entitled “The War Against Boys“. If you click through to the Life Site News article, they have a section on it towards the end of the article. It is very important that pastors and other conservatives understand that the current problems with boys and young men are not going to be solved by ignorant male-blaming slogans like “Man Up!”. Christians and conservatives need to think more deeply about these problems, and they may find that they are actually espousing the very thing (feminism) that is the root cause of the decline in men, and their lack of interest in marriage. Let’s take a look at the studies and be bound by research instead of the desire to please women in our churches by telling them that men are to blame for their woes.

Check out my previous post about the Cornwell study, which compared teacher-assigned test scores with standardized test scores for girls and boys.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Study of elementary school children finds entrenched discrimination against boys

The study is here (PDF), and Susan Walsh writes about the study on her blog. (H/T Stuart Schneiderman)

Excerpt:

A new study of nearly 6,000 elementary school children has found that boys are discriminated against beginning in kindergarten. Christopher Cornwell, an economics professor at the University of Georgia, says that ”gender disparities in teacher grades start early and uniformly favor girls.”

Despite having higher scores on standardized tests, boys get lower grades than girls. Why? Because teachers are basing grades at least partly on classroom behavior, and the standards are very much geared to female norms.

[...]Here’s what the disparity looks like for kindergarten boys:

Std. Deviation Test Scores Grades
Reading -.017 -.27
Math +.02 -.15
Science +.035 -.14

(Note: Values are approx., gauged visually from study graphic.)

Another interesting finding was that boys who adhere to female norms on non-cognitive skills were not penalized. Effectively, the more female behavior was rewarded with a grade “bonus” for males.

The implications of this are obvious. Masculinity, even normal maleness, is being punished in schools from a very young age. Only the most female-acting boys are rewarded with a fair assessment.

I found this story on Stuart Schnederman’s blog, and this is what he had to say about it:

The results demonstrated that schoolteachers are prejudiced against boys. When teachers do not just grade on performance, but include a number of intangible qualities that girls are more likely to possess, they are acting as bigots.

I recommend that everyone pick up a copy of “The War Against Boys” by AEI scholar Christina Hoff Sommers to learn more about this anti-male discrimination problem.

I see a lot of people raving at men to “man up” these days. Many of those people are pastors who remain ignorant about the real, systemic causes of male underachievement. Even very obvious factors – like the dominance of female teachers and administrators in schools – are ignored by the blame-men crowd. Boys generally learn better when they learn from male teachers in all-male classrooms. But unfortunately for boys, there are people who don’t want to do what works for men, especially when it doesn’t fit with feminist ideology.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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