Wisconsin State Senator Grothman Fool of the Week for Simplistic Views on Child Abuse

Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman is concerned about child abuse and neglect. He sits on a state committee that makes recommendations on how to handle the problem. The problem for Grothman is that he sees the problem in simplistic terms. Grothman sees marriage as some sort of automatic cure to child abuse. His solution was to introduce SB 570 which would require “The Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.”

While it is a good idea to help unmarried couples or single or widowed parents, this is not what Grothman is trying to do. His effort is not to provide education, training or other guidance to parents and children in high risk categories. It is his idea to simply get these parents to wed because the problem will then lessen magically.

Grothman is right that 40% of the births in the U.S. are outside of marriage. He is also right that most of those births come in unstable situations. In the past, when almost all births were from married couples, there was still plenty of child abuse and neglect. That was because failed marriages stayed intact. Violence and abuse was endemic in those situations. Today, those bad marriages either never happened or ended quickly.

It is not accurate to say that just because a couple in a bad family situation is married then the children are safer. The problem of a poor family environment still exists whether a couple is married or not.

Nevertheless, Grothman sees this as simply a matter of choice. In Grothman’s eyes, the “unwanted or mistimed pregnancies” are the “choice of the women.” Yes, these are Grothman’s thoughts: Single women are getting pregnant by the millions deliberately. Grothman has done everything but throw pity at the poor men entrapped by these mischievous and lustful women.

Grothman put it another way. He said “I think a lot of women are adopting the single motherhood lifestyle because the government creates a situation in which it is almost preferred.”

According to Grothman, the problem has twin causes. Government is creating a society where single motherhood is the standard. Despite no political agenda pushing this idea, it makes for a good sound bite for Grothman’s pro-family allies. Pro-family, by the way, only applies if one is married.

With this view, it would seem that Grothman might support widespread availability of contraceptives. Not surprisingly, Grothman introduced a bill a while back promoting abstinence, not contraceptives. Instead of promoting concrete solutions to lessen unwanted pregnancies, Grothman thinks people should go against human biology and suppress their natural desires. That is just another of Grothman’s simplistic solutions.

As mentioned earlier, Grothman sees this problem as simply one of choice. “Unwanted pregnancies” are decisions made by women. Of course, most people take “unwanted” to mean something that a person doesn’t want. In Grothman’s doublespeak, “unwanted” means wanted. The “unwanted” part is just a ploy, according to Grothman.

“I think when you have an epidemic of this great proportion; people are not so dumb that it’s surprising when they get pregnant. I think people are trained to say that ‘this is a surprise to me,’ because there’s still enough of a stigma that they’re supposed to say this.”

So Grothman sees this epidemic of births outside of marriage as a desire by women to get government benefits so that they can live comfortably. These women then wryly profess surprise at what is actually a planned pregnancy.

Grothman’s solution is at the 4:25 mark in the video listed below.  He sees women holding off having children until married or putting them up for adoption. That’s quite a solution to have 40% of the births in this country deferred or placed for adoption. Of course, Grothman would never back having single parents adopt, and probably not any of the same-sex couples either. Perhaps in Grothman’s world the unadopted can sit in orphanages. After all, with the millions put up for adoption in Grothman’s world, it is going to take sometime to find homes for them.

Anyone who thinks that all of the births outside of marriage are coming by choice is living in a fool’s world. That’s almost as bad as thinking that marriage in a relationship where the couple doesn’t want to get married is going to reduce child abuse. Grothman’s plan is more about blaming women than protecting children. It is political posturing and hot air that won’t solve a single case of child abuse or neglect.

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4 Responses to Wisconsin State Senator Grothman Fool of the Week for Simplistic Views on Child Abuse

  1. joe says:

    He is not being simplistic. He refused to look at anything that did not agree with his limited experience. What a diservice to the people of Wisconsin.

  2. Terry Ott says:

    In looking to see what research Grothman may have been referring to, I found this. It surprised me. Perhaps his “20 times” is an exaggeration — I didn’t see that number anywhere in a quick search — but consider this from 2010:

    “The Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4) has just been published by the Office of Planning Research and Evaluation of the Administration for Children and Families.

    (I am leaving out a big part of it here, and going to the relevant section);

    “The old news is that family structure is still a great predictor of child abuse and neglect.
    Considering both factors, the NIS–4 classified children into six categories: living with two married biological parents, living with other married parents (e.g., step-parent, adoptive parent), living with two unmarried parents, living with one parent who had an unmarried partner in the household, living with one parent who had no partner in the household, and living with no parent. The groups differed in rates of every maltreatment category and across both definitional standards. Children living with their married biological parents universally had the lowest rate, whereas those living with a single parent who had a cohabiting partner in the household had the highest rate in all maltreatment categories. Compared to children living with married biological parents, those whose single parent had a live-in partner had more than 8 times the rate of maltreatment overall, over 10 times the rate of abuse, and nearly 8 times the rate of neglect.

    “More astonishingly still, abuse of children in single-parent households bucks the overall national trend. Although child abuse and neglect overall are “significantly” down, in single-parent households it’s increased since 1996.

    In nearly all categories, the incidence of maltreatment and levels of harm increased since the NIS–3 for children living with one parent but decreased for those living with two parents. The largest rate increase for children with one parent was in Endangerment Standard neglect (58% higher in NIS–4 than in NIS–3), especially the specific category of emotional neglect (a 194% increase). The largest decrease for children living with two parents occurred in the rate of Harm Standard sexual abuse, which declined by 61% from its level at the time of the NIS–3.

    “The NIS-4 uses methodology and questions that make it amenable to comparison with previous NIS studies. So all in all, this report shows a positive trend toward lower incident rates of child abuse and neglect. Let’s all take a minute and applaud that good news.

    “It also, once again, shows the value to child wellbeing of intact families. As countless other sets of data show, children overwhelmingly do better in intact families raised by their biological parents. In the case of abuse and neglect, the difference was eight-fold.

  3. Glenn Church says:

    Terry, Your point is well made and there is little doubt that more problems are going to come in single parent households. However, these facts don’t really address the problem. Getting married does not guarantee a protection from child abuse. In the past, child abuse occurred widely in two-parent households. That was because people were under pressure to stay together. Today, those bad marriages have ended in divorce or no marriage at all. It is isn’t marriage that is going to cure child abuse, it is learning how to parent whether it is a single or two-parent household. Believing that marriage is the solution is simply masking the problem. The argument put forth by Grothman and others is not just between single and two-parent households either. It applies for unmarried couples and the widowed too. A committed, two-parent family is great, but the couple need to do it for the right reasons and be committed to the relationship, as well as learning to parent. The argument for intact families would also seem to validate the positives in allowing same-sex couples to marry, but I don’t think Grothman and the others are going for that.

  4. LeftTheBuilding says:

    Through the years, I’ve noticed that men of Grothman’s ilk: physically unattractive, intellectually limp, miserly in character, cowardly in deed, are often the most repulsive to women, especially, those of child bearing years. I would guess, it’s in most women’s deep rooted, best Darwinian interest to perpetuate their line with more promising root stock.

    The rejection Grothman must have faced as a nebbishy young man…well, it’s no wonder, he’s never been married and has no children.

    Instead of cultivating a certain elegance of spirit that might have won him love and admiration in his later years, he has nourished an animosity towards women which he expresses through every twisted bit of legislation he can conceive.

    Poor, pathetic Glenn Grothman. Poor, pitiable wretch.

    I would like to suggest the following solution to the Grothman problem:

    “Win a date with Glenn Grothman.”

    C’mon Republican ladies…If one of you fundamentalist types would just step up and agree to spend the rest of your life doing the unprotected missionary position bop with ol’ Glenn, maybe the rest of us could get back to the business of living.

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