Proposal to “recognise” non-marital parenthood as contributing to neglect and abuse

In Wisconsin.

An Act to amend 48.982 (2) (g) 2., 48.982 (2) (g) 4. and 48.982 (2) (gm) of the
2statutes; relating to: requiring the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board
3to emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and

Thanks, T!

8 thoughts on “Proposal to “recognise” non-marital parenthood as contributing to neglect and abuse

  1. I see (with apologies to Ian Hacking, whose quip I’m misusing) Wisconsin Republicans have adopted Nixonian linguistic idealism: it’s true if and only if we say it’s true.

  2. You know, I used to be proud to be a Professor Cheeshead. Not so much with the Koch puppets in charge now.

  3. I don’t get it.

    It reads, “Providing, for use in its statewide projects and for use by organizations that
    receive grants from the CANPB, educational and public awareness materials and
    programming that emphasize the role of fathers in the primary prevention of child
    abuse and neglect. . .”

    Do they really just think single mothers are to blame? Or is it father’s who aren’t (for whatever reason) married to their children’s mothers? And if so, couldn’t it be that men who are more likely to be abusive/neglectful are less likely to be married for a variety of reasons (perhaps including that their co-parenter doesn’t want to marry someone who is abusive or neglectful)? I mean, I know this is all silliness (though siliness doesn’t quite capture my outrage), but I just don’t even get, on their own reasoning, why.

  4. Kathryn,

    It’s extremely difficult to figure out from the actual bill and from anything else I can find on it, but I think the point is actually the unmarried fathers — and it does seem to be a consistent finding that children are more likely to be abused by natural fathers not married to the mothers than by fathers that are, and more likely to be abused by live-in boyfriends exercising some parental functions than by stepfathers. As you say, though, the causal relationship may well be different from what the bill assumes; I know of no studies (although they might exist — it’s a field I haven’t looked at in quite a while) that actually look closely enough at the causation to get really definitive conclusions.

    It’s perhaps worth pointing out, though, that the bill is just consolidating into law what is already very often given as advice to caseworkers anyway. See for instance here, particularly section 3.3, for similar claims in a manual put out by the U.S. Children’s Bureau. So it’s not a Wisconsin-only thing.

  5. I had hoped that this was mostly a matter of tin ear following civil service advice, but after having googled this a bit, it turns out the reasoning behind this particular bill is probably far, far worse than even some of the above commenters suggested; the proposer of the bill, Senator Grothman, turns out to have a history of saying crazy things on this subject (PDF). (Don’t click on it if you have any hard surfaces nearby to bang your head against.)

  6. Yes, the State of Wisconsin is really, really that bad. This legislative session is brought to us by “Americans for Prosperity.” or the Koch brothers public policy wing. Another really bad piece of legislation (and worse because it has already passed, and the one mentioned above is unlikely to pass) is expanding the school-choice voucher system to take the salary caps for parents off and to expand it to medium sized cities in Wisconsin. The end result is a whole lot of rich parents who send their kids to Catholic schools will do so for free while the public schools have to take that bite from their already reduced by the sum of $800 million.

    For the good news, a historic recall election is likely to happen this Spring as there have been 1 million signatures gathered to oust the Governor, his Lt. Governor and 4 radical republican senators.

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