Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Child Abuse in Deployed Families Gaining Lots of Attention

I didn't include the text of the report in this post, but you can get to it by clicking above. When I first saw this, I discarded it as inaccurate. But since it's gaining such attention, I feel it's important to address it here. There are several other sources for this story by several different writers. I've only seen a few reports that include the actual numbers. RTI, Journal Watch, Fox News, and USA Today all comment on the original report, but I didn't see where any of them made it a point to emphasize that this is not inclusive of all military families.

Looking at the original report from The Journal of the American Medical Association with a skeptical and scientific eye, it clearly states that the families included in the research are those with previously established occassions of abuse.

I think the reports are incomplete. A general assumption that all deployed spouses are child abusers can't be made from this report. What the researchers looked at were families where at least one confirmed case of child abuse had already been substantiated.

That being said, the sample taken for this study was not representative of the population that the researchers are reporting on. To me, the people who published these reports, without that disclaimer, are irresponsible.

The fact that DoD defines child abuse differently or more strictly that their civilian counterparts also plays this out in a different light. When we were all kids, corporal punishment was a norm, just like riding around in the back window of the car.

My advice, just look at it as a wedge being driven between the morals of US society and the war. They're playing on the sympathies of the US public. I believe they think if they show deployments as destructive to the home life of military families, US support for the war will drop even further and politicians will feel even more compelled to push for withdrawals and quick resolution.

Until these researchers come out with a more comprehensive examination that is inclusive of all military families or is more representative of the military family population, this report will only be viewed as a black mark.

At best, this report is good to see how the stress of deployment effects families that already have at least one occurrence of child abuse in the home. The fact that occurrences in child abuse for deployed wives where child abuse has already happened increases when their husbands are deployed is not surprising.

Representative samples of the US population where child abuse occurs indicates that women are more than twice as likely than men to be abusive to their children. But again, we’re working with different definitions, like comparing apples to oranges.


LoveMyTanker said...

Thanks for your thoughts on this issue and for sharing them at my blog and at SpouseBuzz.

Scully's Moulder said...

You're welcome. I've created a longer reply and put it in a new post.