Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Paternal Responsiblity

One in forty three infants in the United States were abused or neglected in 2006. Abuse includes beating, kicking, biting, burning, or shaking. Abandonment, maternal drug use, and failure to meet basic necessities, such as clothing, food, and housing, qualify as neglect.

Why is this number so high, especially when, “The findings do demonstrate a clear pattern of early neglect and physical abuse that is largely preventable.” ?

I believe part of the answer lies in the definition of neglect itself: maternal drug use. Why is maternal, and not paternal, drug use considered neglect? The implicit meaning in the exclusion of paternal drug use is that men are not as responsible for their own children, which is wrong. Women are not solely responsible for their children and pressuring them to feel so often leads to feelings of anger or resentment towards these children, the children often neglected or abused.

The abuse is preventable, but not by individual parents. Because parenting is often solely delegated to women and undervalued as actual, difficult work in society, mothers feel isolated. By fostering an atmosphere of equal responsibility between parents and creating a network of community between neighborhood parents, maybe, abuse will be lessened, maybe children will suffer less.

8 comments:

Tyler said...

I think that mother's drug use is more referring to prenatal... which directly impacts the child's health and well-being, where the father's drug use does not.

FeministGal said...

this (http://www.dadsanddaughters.org/) is a great organization for fathers rights and education. it's a little off topic but does show the other side of dads being more involved and respected in child rearing :)

Margaret t said...

it is likely also that they consider the mother's drug use more than the father because postnatal care tends to fall more directly on the mother's shoulders. Women are not solely responsible for their children, however, they do play a larger role than men in child rearing, especially in the early months.

Ted said...

i would say that it was directly in reference to prenatal drug use, which, in my mind would be abuse because it if forcing the child to take drugs when it has no will. Also, with as much that is known about drug use and its effects on children, I think that it is safe to consider it abuse, not only to the child and the mother. I also agree that the father using drugs postnatal would be abuse as well and would tend to lead to further neglect. And also, the effect of the fathers use of drug while trying to conceive is not entirely clear and a case could be made that the fathers lifestyle directly impacts the child's health as well; everything from drug use to cell phones have been found to have an effect on sperm.

OutcrazyOphelia said...

The expectation is that the mother will be the primary care giver. Society is structured around this precept, I mean paternity leave is not very common, even though it's entirely possible for the father to be the primary care giver. The tone I got from the article was blaming maternal drug use for the abuse (neglect). I also noticed that they danced around the issue of economic position by talking about the lack of a home, food, or clothes but not about whether or not these families were making enough at work to provide these necessities, or if they were getting aid from the government. It's interesting because I made a post last week regarding the increase of pregnancy related discrimination claims--women can lose their jobs for turning up pregnant, and then if, as society seemingly expects, they end up raising children single handedly, how are they supposed to provide for them exactly?

Jezabel said...

Women end up raising the child for the first few months - they take maternity leave from their jobs in order to stay home with their newborns. Drug use, be it pre- or postnatal, is more likely to affect the child if the mother is the user.

Michael said...

Yeah, pretty much what everyone above me said. Maternal drug use while the baby is in the womb has an immediate biological effect, and the study is based on biological effects. Unfortunately, I hypothesize that if psychological effects of drug use by one or both parents during infancy and youth were to be included in this study of abuse and neglect, the odds would be substantially higher than one in 43.

Anonymous said...

Many of the factors leading to child abuse or sexual abuse are related to demographics. There are people who are more likely than average to commit a crime of any type. Much of this is cultural: they learn that crime is OK as long as you don't get caught, or that violence solves problems. This is much more common among the poor. I'm not saying that poor people are bad in general. But ghettos are breeding grounds for crime and violence. This is a huge problem that is only getting worse. It will take a VERY coordinated effort on the part of gov't and society to change, probably a very liberal gov't.