Friday, November 04, 2005

Breaking the Science: Ostrich Syndrome

More on the travesty that was Breaking the Silence...

Breaking the Science: Ostrich Syndrome
by Mark Rosenthal


The film's inflammatory statement that, "To win custody of the kids over and against the mother's will is the ultimate victory, short of killing the kids," ignores the fact that mothers are perpetrators in 59.1% of child fatalities, whereas the number for fathers is 39.5%. And when you factor out the 20.4% of fatalities involving both parents, twice as many children die at the hands of their mothers as their fathers.

The film also states that Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) "has been thoroughly debunked by the American Psychological Assn." The APA, however, begs to differ. Rhea K. Farberman, APA Communications Director states, "The American Psychological Association does not have an official position on parental alienation syndrome -- pro or con. The Connecticut Public Television press release is incorrect."

But the real bombshell happened Wednesday, when Glenn Sacks' website published a report stating that one of the mothers in the film had been found by a court to have committed eight counts of child abuse, and that the filmmakers were informed of that fact, yet chose to portray her as the victim anyway.

If it's true that "women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner," then men constitute around 13.9% of all victims (halfway between the one man for every five to eight women that they claim). If they had featured the stories of one man and five women, they'd give the impression that 16.7% of victims are men. Overstating the number by 2.8% is what they call "grossly overstating" the problems of men? Apparently even they figured out how nonsensical their claim is, because when they posted the statement on their website, they removed the word "grossly."

But even the claim that "women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner" is highly questionable. This number comes from analysis of reported crimes, and for a whole constellation of reasons, men are far more reluctant to report being victimized by their spouses than women are. The National Violence Against Women Survey documents that victimized women (26.7%) were twice as likely as victimized men (13.5%) to report their victimization to the police. Surveying representative population samples is a far more reliable way to estimate who's doing what to whom than trying to draw conclusions from the non-representative subgroup that files police reports. Those who want to minimize the significance of female perpetrated abuse prefer the distorted picture reflected by crime statistics.

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