Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Census redefines two parent families

I thought it was great news when I read the headline in this morning's New York Times -- "2-Parent Black Families Showing Gains: Census Bureau Abstract Gives a Portrait of the Nation by the Numbers".

Look at the great graph- what an improvement!

But notice that sneaky wording " better survey techniques"? Reading the actual article one finds:
The Census Bureau attributed an indeterminate amount of the increase to revised definitions adopted in 2007, which identify as parents any man and woman living together, whether or not they are married or the child’s biological parents.

I believe this is what Patrick Moynihan called "defining deviancy down". I can see why that change might be desired by GLBT lobbyists. However, it obscures the real problems with heterosexual family formation. I am particularly concerned about children who are living with mother and her current boyfriend.

The increase in the likelihood of abuse by stepparents has been demonstrated in studies by Margo Wilson and Martin Daly and is referred to as the Cinderella Effect. In one study they concluded that "a child under three years of age who lived with one genetic parent and one stepparent in the United States in 1976 was about seven times more likely (…) to become a validated child-abuse case in the AHA records than one who dwelt with two genetic parents." In another study of records in Great Britain, they found that "children were beat by stepfathers at a rate of 100 times more than genetic fathers".

I am particularly concerned that the new definition of parent doesn't even require marriage and can include children living with mother and her current boyfriend because of some a comment Jill Woodliff posted at Stand Firm recently:
One phenomenon here in the Mississippi Delta is for the mother’s current live-in boyfriend to keep the refrigerator in his bedroom so that the daughters must yield sexual favors for access to the food. These girls would be far less likely to be abused by their biologic fathers, even in a common law marriage, than by a series of live-in boyfriends. A highly restrictive moral code aimed at controlling sex within marriage, even a patriarchal marriage, would be far superior to the current state.

Read all about 2-Parent Black Families Showing Gains in the New York Times.


karl.rosenqvist said...

Speaking as a GLBT-lobbyist I'm quite appaled by such methods and I know atleast here in Sweden most of us lobbyists critisize this type of report as propaganda by rightwing-fundamentalists lobbygroups.
In short, I don't think any one wants this type of biased research done, it's useless for any purpose due to lacking definitions.

Perpetua said...

Hi karl,
I am glad you agree that we want the real information about changes in social structure. So who do you suppose was behind hanging the definition so we don't measure what is really going?