Why the low status of opposition to child abuse?

Michael Kaan emails me:

Hi Tyler, I’m a healthcare professional in Canada and a long-time reader of your blog. For the past couple of years, observing the culture wars and various elections, I’ve noticed that child abuse is an extremely rare topic among the cultural left: the highly visible progressive segment that drives wokeness, is culturally powerful, etc. You know what their dominant concerns are. (On the right it’s basically non-existent.)

While there’s nothing obviously wrong with their attention to sexual and racial discrimination, the energy put into it is disproportionate to the massive social cost of child abuse. Rates vary around the world, but in general it looks like about 30% of all children globally suffer some sort of serious maltreatment each year, often many times a year, repeated over multiple years.
So one can easily estimate that billions of people have experienced this. In other words, more people have been abused as children than have experienced war, famine, or epidemics.
The impact and costs of this have been measured (low academic achievement, health problems, low earnings, drug and alcohol use, etc.), and child abuse is sometimes lethal. What puzzles me is why it has no legs politically. Among the woke crowd, if child abuse is mentioned it’s usually in terms of discrimination against girls or sexual minorities. But there are really no prominent voices actively campaigning to mitigate child abuse generally.
Why is this? Is it overly complex? Is the phenomenon too widely dispersed demographically, so that an evil agent group isn’t easily identified? Does its persistence foreground chronic failures of the welfare state (if that’s the case)? Is it boring?

For a start, I would note that virtually everyone is again child abuse, so opposing it doesn’t make anyone significant look worse.  But I am sure there is much more to it than that.


Supply curves are upwards-sloping. The elasticity of Covid-19 is bounded both by the deaths of productive people and the psychology of soap, in the limit of the PPF of virulence. The Wuhan China killer virus is an image of globalization and a reference to state capacity indoctrinationism. Pundits who don't understand this, or rather pretend not to, are merely suffering from TDS. Solve for equilibrium.


"Child abuse" is a very general undefined term. Does she mean sexual abuse, beatings, starvation? All of those are already against the law and punished when identified. I get the impression she means something else something more arbitrary.

At least two of the posters appear to mean 'child-rearing methods not favored by professional-managerial types born ca. 1977'.

Why should I care about social justice warrior crap? America needs to get back to work NOW!

The answer is straightforward. It's a lot about status. For instance, the attention around sexual harrassment is to a significant extent about lowering the status of powerful, high-status men. Perpetrators of child abuse are generally low-status, not only because they are child abusers, but because often time they are from working-class backgrounds.

It's also a lot about reframing women as vulnerable victims. Children are already seen as vulnerable, while increasing the visibility of sexual harrassment elevates the status of victimized women, who had previously seen as responsible for sexual mishaps.

Politics is not about policy.

People who are asked about child abuse and answer about status are broken.

And while I'm here,

I think the reason you don't see more political action is that this is an opposite sort of problem. It is wholly internal to families and invisible to the public.

You can't stop that which you can't see.

People may grumble about child welfare services, but I think everyone recognizes their necessity, when harm becomes suspected. But given western consensus on family privacy, they are necessarily last resort.

He wasn't asked about child abuse. He was asked why the woke left doesn't care about child abuse.

I know, right?

+1, anonymous likes to construct Strawmen

WTF man, if the topic was "why the woke left doesn't care about child abuse" that was entirely self-feeding BD inside one person's mind.

It was self-sustaining tribal bullshit.

Note the names here of the people who could not decode that. Y

Self-feeding BS of course.

My take on it is less nakedly one sided. Again to Kling's three axis model, the progressive left act, and are self-viewed, as champions of the oppressed. (The oppressor/oppressed axis is pretty steelmannable.) Said another way: If the left, as a "group," are so whole-heartedly championing the oppressed in less pervasive situations, how is it they are functionally avoiding a strong push on child abuse which is quite pervasive?

It's a solidly valid question.

I think most people are not that far along, consider this:

could the same sort of letter have been written asking why Marginal Revolution doesn't care about child abuse?

It would be a similarly cheap shot, but yes they could. Because to my knowledge no other posts in 2020 have covered the topic.

It's a pretty toxic straw man to think anyone who aspires to be good must be all things good.

He ignores the purpose of the post and turns it into a personal attack on a random commenter.

So much for no drive-by insults.

"So much for no drive-by insults."

He only uses such comments to pretend the moral high ground to bash other posters. He ignores it when you point to him engaging in the same behavior previously and quickly goes back to it later. It's all virtue signaling and trying to "win" an argument on the internet without actually going through the hard work to provide persuasive comments.

Check which foot is wearing the shoe.

Did you have a negative stereotype for the woke left?

Did you buy into this being part of their evil with zero evidence?

I think it's pretty obvious why this isn't a bigger issue for the Left. It would hurt them politically.

A highly disproportionate percentage of child abuse is committed by unrelated (to the kids), co-habitating partners of single mothers and by single mothers themselves.

It is yet another indication (among many) that anyone who is serious about doing right by their kids gets married before having children, stays married throughout their time at home and does the work needed to keep the relationship at least amicable during those years.

The most effective way to increase child welfare is certainly to reestablish taboos against illegitimate children and divorce (and creating taboos against being a lousy spouse).

But that is an anathema to the Left's ideology and it would be poison to the Left at the ballot box. Married couples are mostly conservative.

Why doesn't the Right benefit itself (and actually do some good for kids) by using the many available strong arguments to restore society's views about the incredible importance that sound marriages have for child welfare?

Either because they're stupid or they wouldn't want to be held accountable for doing right by their own kids rather than pursuing their own romantic interests, even if it helped their electoral prospects.

As rational people below note, we have lots of policies in place for this kind of thing, especially in what you would consider left-wing states.

There was zero evidence presented about who is supposedly not concerned with this.

It was pure tribal prejudice from the beginning.

In which haters cannot even stop to think that they're the ones hating.

Since everyone is against it, they're is little signaling value, as Tyler said.
Woke folks are always concerned about drawing attention to causes that make minorities or women look bad, and abuse stats, superficially, don't show either in a favorable light.
Much of the woke left is mildly anti-child (they don't want them, and think those that do are selfish), so this will not be too salient to them. They'd rather chalk up as many cases as possible to patriarchy and racism, and then forget about the rest. Doesn't fray the alliances that way. Like hating evangelicals but not Baptists: makes no sense unless you think about faction alliances.

*there is little

@triclops - right on. This thread starts out with the OP making a questionable assumption, that child abuse is not suppressed. In fact, it's probably in the West guarded against too much. If you so much take a photo of a minor that's naked, even if it's your own, you could land it jail. Touch a minor even by casual contact in the wrong place, and you've got a lawsuit. In the Philippines, the parents of a minor who sold their child for sex to an American (common btw in SE Asia) got something like five years in jail; the American got life and their life was over. Same with anybody, even 18 years old, having sex with an under 18 year old minor. So what is the OP talking about? Jeffrey Epstein would be another example (you can't tell me his 'victims' were not consensual, in fact, not in law, since legally minors cannot consent to anything without their parents approval).

Bonus trivia: in ancient Greece, where homosexuality was not 'genetic' but cultural (neighboring city-states either practiced or did not practice same sex, by custom, showing it was not genetic), a sexual relationship between an older man and a younger man was considered normal, but sex between two older men was considered ridiculous. Source: Peter Gay (sic), the former Columbia University history chair.

Yes, and I think the dynamics here are actually very interesting. IF I can sketch out a quick history of child abuse moral panic in e.g. North America:

0. Prehistory (pre-1980s): comic books, Mad Magazine, The Pill. THINK OF THE CHILDREN is deeply encoded in the North American cultural DNA.

1. 1980s-1990s: satanic panic, razors-in-apples: maybe the height of cultural hysteria over child abuse. Every liberal and conservative commentator can get on TV making more and more over-the-top claims.

2. 1990s-2000s: internet sexual predators, child porn online: the internet provides a second wave of hysteria for the pearl-clutchers to get on TV about. Again, this is a bipartisan games that you can play regardless of your political affiliation.

3. 2010s: burnout and cynicism: a modest, gradual lessening of the hysteria of the past 20 years. Joking about child abuse online become almost mainstream. The few major flare-ups of THINK OF THE CHILDREN hysteria are mostly (mostly) confined to the cultural right: bathroom sickos, drag queen storytime with twerking, and so on. Accordingly, the cultural left starts to associate child abuse concerns with the outgroup. The attention-seeking function that this stuff served through the 1980s-2000s is much diminished -- the only TV outlet that will give you a spot to talk about THE CHILDREN is FOX, which is only interested if there's a way to tar leftists as pedophiles, and in any event no leftist wants a FOX appearance on their resume.

I think that's more or less where we are these days. Among the attention-seekers, you have the right-left dynamic of the 2010s still in effect. Among rational, decent people, child abuse itself is a dead moral question, like murder, and therefore bears little discussion; the question of hysteria over child abuse is a more interesting issue to debate, and that's why we (I'm rational and decent donchewno) do it.

This sucks for people working to prevent and treat actual, real, everyone-agrees-that-this-is-horrible child abuse, because I bet they get less funding than the pet causes of the attention-seekers, and even very little funding from the rational-and-decent brigade than other issues that people talk about more.

The disenfranchised (youth) get abused. Is this not always the way? The only solution has been the granting of suffrage, but those in power (adults) never believe such a thing as reasonable. And in this case, the disenfranchised will never know to argue for their rights.

There's no money to stop child abuse. But we can always find a couple trillion here and there whenever corporations need their bailouts.

Did you ever get hired to do a job by an abused child? I think not.

"Banks earned origination fees of 5% on loans of up to $350,000; 3% on loans between $350,000 and $2 million; and 1% on loans between $2 million and $10 million. That means they earned $17,500 for processing a $350,000 loan, compared with $100,000 for a $10 million loan."

Wildly expensive and overpaid for the level of work done. Hard to think of an easier job than checking a few boxes and maybe click the mouse a few times. The IRS is better able to deliver this service since they already do it every year and for much cheaper. As long as Congress is beholden to Wall Street, the banks will always carve out a largely wasteful toll lane for themselves. Where are the fiscal cons that hate government waste?


Well I can think of 2 reasons. Children don't vote, and they have little money. Thus, abused children probably don't have extensive means to advocate for their needs.

Schools are for the benefit of parents as much as for children.

Schools are for the benefit of teachers. Children are a distant second, and parents are just ATM machines.

I know quite a few parents for whom the arrival of 'school age' means they no longer have to spend thousands on daycare.

I notice on the fringe right it is an obsession, but not in a productive manner. Comet Pizza, Hillary Clinton, Qanon etc. all have intense conspiracy theories that center on child abuse.

In US politics it may not have an easy outlet for activism. States most directly enforce child abuse laws, but Federal politicians are not eager to directly support states as that just feeds eager young politicians who may run for House or Senate in the future and challenge them.

In fairness, the Jeff Epstein (;resumably the person referenced when you put down Hillary Clinton) is actually a monster and a serial abuser.

That he would not have been stopped under a Clinton administration is obvious.

QAnon makes allegations about Hillary Clinton being an abuser directly. She was a direct beneficiary of comet pizza... etc. Epstein, being real, is kinda besides this point.

Ohh, you actually follow QAnon seriously?

QAnon has indeed centered their 'conspiracy' on child sexual abuse, Satanic rituals, and human sacrifice. Epstein abused older children and he got away with it not because of any Clinton connections but because he smoozed the right people with the most notable being the Florida prosecutor, later Trump appointee, who cut him probably the biggest break in the world.

In fact the obsession the fringe right has with fictional child abuse conspiracies might be some type of collective unconscious attempt at diversion. Didn't the Republicans have a Speaker of the House disgraced after retirement for molesting boys under his charge? There was also Roy Moore, White Trash Epstein, who they doubled down on running for Senate.

Yes, you are thinking of Denny Hastert, former Republican Speaker of the House. Compare and contrast though with Gerry Studds. Not the Speaker, but congressman in the 80s who liked his boyfriends young.

I'm firmly on the right (hopefully not fringe), but if I was making your argument, I'd cite the Catholic child abuse scandals as a cause.

Turning my fire back on the left, I think the Clintons *were* the "right people" who Epsein schmoozed.

FWIW many on the right (I think Palin for example) backed Roy Moore's opponent in the primary. But hell, you could say that about most candidates.

Occam's Razor. Epstein schmoozed with Clinton and Trump. Epstein got a sweetheart deal from a prosecutor who was promoted up by Trump before the whole thing got exposed.

Easiest explanation is that he schmoozed everyone who had fame, power, money or various combinations of all 3 and the schmoozing of Trump (or Trump allies) paid off.

I agree the Catholic Church is another example for the right. After nearly a decade of screaming about gay marriage, it turned out South Park was remarkably close to the truth. A healthy dose of 'me thinks the lady doth protest too much'. I'm not sure that fits as well with the fringe right. While they are aligned with the Church when it comes to abortion and gay marriage, and the whole Protestant hatred of 'Papists' is really super old school now when it comes to politics, they are not exactly a perfect fit.

I notice on the fringe right it is an obsession,

I notice you've manufactured a bogey in your mind.

I notice you are not paying attention.

I think the umbrella of 'child abuse' needs to be way, way wider than just 'sexual abuse'. Neglect, verbal harassment, physical harassment (hitting, whipping, etc.) These are probably more widespread and actionable than the typical bogey-men.

Here's one for ya: unpack the reaction of the right and the left to the story of Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings hitting his kid with a [big] tree branch. It's got everything. The NFL, an african-american man....maybe there's some larger cultural truth you could glean out of that event.

lol he wasn't hitting him with a big tree branch... kid would be dead or hospitalized... it was a willow switch

don't hold with spanking the kids myself but it can hardly be described as a "heinous act" given that roughly 5 billion people alive today probably experienced it at least once...can't lock up all our parents over it

Is child abuse being ignored? When I was a kid parents could treat their children pretty much as they liked provided they didn't put them in hospital. Nowadays parents ask them what they want for dinner. But perhaps older people see the improved status of children and this causes them to ignore abuse that does occur.

And of course, people tend to ignore problems in other countries. There's nothing new about that.

Child abuse. Making the premise that child abuse is an extremely rare topic among the cultural left seem made out of the finest fair trade organic straw.

George Pell was found innocent by the highest court in Australia, for example.

Or do we not talk about institutions here, ones that have now for decades denied there is anything to see here, move along.

Personally, I can't wait for my friend Pigdog to be released since he was stitched up on the basis of a similar lack of evidence. There was only one person what said he done it and it takes simply ages to get out of Humphrey B. Bear suit.

It's not low status just there's no extra virtue signaling reward to be had on Very Obvious Things.

What empirical basis is there that child abuse is a "rare topic" on the cultural left? Compared to what? Based on what metric - money spent? number of fundraisers? press coverage? research papers published? Mr. Cowan, publishing this reader's subjective inquiry seems inflammatory and inconsistent with your usual intellectually disciplined approach.

I think the norm is pretty well set by the "left" of my boomer generation, the their kids, in opposition to "corporal punishment" in both school and home. Conservatives don't mention because it's not PC.

The news and debate are mostly about school police rough handling kids, mostly non-white, or disabled, or occasional parent in stores, or leaving kids in cars or home alone.

But legally, there is a long list of mandatory reporters who must report suspected child abuse to child services.

The performance, or lack there of, is a regular political topic after a child in killed, etc.

And Catholic priest child abuse has been a hot topic for decades in New England, with every other region cases reviving it here.

The question might as well be "why doesn't the left debate murder?"

Internationally, child abuse is lumped in with trafficking, slavery, killing, torture, genital mutilation, as human rights violations.

What action their is against child abuse has been against those outside the family who abuse (coaches, priests, teachers). Nobody wants to touch families, with good reason.

Children need love. Governments, even well run governments with lots of social workers and psychologists, cannot deliver love. Families are the only reliable source of love for children.

Families also abuse and allow abuse of children. But seeking to protect children from environments where some suffer abuse would also weaken all families, which could easily do more harm than good, given children's need for the protective love of the family. How can you separate the bad parts of family from the good parts of family?

Perhaps you could educate young people (14-30?) to recognize abuse and learn to avoid it before they become parents. Honesty and transparency on the subject might lessen the transmission of abuse from one generation to another (many abusers were abused). But you really shouldn't weaken the family; the good that families do outweighs the bad.

Agreed. And in addition, it's not a clear yes-or-no issue. There are many, many families that occasionally use corporal punishment, and yet the children are loved and would be far worse off in foster care (which is the outcome when child abuse allegations are made and sustained). This situation has existed in several branches of my family.

Also, some history. In the '70's, there was a great deal of attention to child abuse. PSA's, awareness campaigns, etc. The result was the legislation and child welfare system that we now have.

Her in Kenosha, we have cops who run around giving "Stranger Danger" lectures to elementary and middle-school students in their classrooms during the school year. This represents a great offense against child-free "strangers" and is ironic, given that the primary source of child-abuse (some 90%) is perpetrated by family members, priests, ministers, and teachers--all of them known to the child and not strangers.

Indeed, statistics also show that the worst abusers of family are cops themselves. "Stranger Danger" lectures are a Big Lie and represent an abuse of "strangers." In fact, it should be strangers who are paid to run around the schools giving lectures on the dangers of family, cop, preacher and teacher abuse!

An intriguing point is made here by OP. Most comments so far seem to be by agenda-having assholes so I’ll weigh in.

I think it’s because there’s no political hay to be made because both sides agree, and also because liberal (like other) politicians are more concerned with institutional problems and this seems on the face of it more individual.

But I appreciate the wokening to this issue. I did not realize it was so broad and constant. Surely there is much to be done.

There is one major institution that definitely tries - globally - to make sure that political hay is not made out of its long running problems in this area.

What empirical basis is there for the claim that child abuse is an extremely rare topic amongst the cultural left?

Who, exactly, are the cultural left anyway?

Tyler - I'm curious as to why you decided to publish this email in particular.

It's a test. Or even


The Oscar for Best Picture was given to the well-made but minor movie "Spotlight" four years ago for documenting the Catholic Church boy-bothering scandal in Boston. (In contrast, a movie about boy-bothering in the entertainment industry probably would not not win Best Picture. As Stalin would say, "Who? Whom?")

HBO's documentary about Michael Jackson was pretty big as I recall.

1) The bogeyman in that film was the Catholic Church, so very obvious why Hollywood embraced it with open arms (I say this as a libertarian-athiest)

2) When I read the original email query - I was thinking about it from a non-sexual abuse angle. There is so much more abuse of children of this type. Neglect, emotional abuse, physical trauma of a non-sexual nature (beatings, whippings, etc. that lead to hospital visits). I think that is much more pervasive and in turn leads to a vicious cycle of adults who repeat that behavior on their children.

I think sexual abuse is more of a niche-concern that already has fairly good institutions for rooting it out and addressing the problem. Nobody is talking about the others.

It's an easy boogeyman. Even a faithful Catholic has not principal objection to slamming pedophile priests and those that enabled them. The covering up by the institution was beyond absurd, even long after it became clear to the mass culture that child sexual abuse was a major problem in many areas of life. There are few secular institutions where you can say this unless...

.... you talk about an individual villain. For example Penn State's Joe Paterno spawned it's own movie with Al Pacino. But that case is more about a single person who the institution rallies around and protects.

There are cases of abuse in public schools but usually teachers do not have the same relationships with parents as a priest, nor do I think the institutional problem was ever as extensive.

I don't disagree with any of that. Just looking at the original point...I don't see Hollywood giving "Spotlight" an Oscar as a sign that the woke left care about child abuse. It's a sign that the woke left hates Catholicism/organized religion.

The people with low status are those who abuse children, obviously. Or is someone confused?

The Left is protecting the child exploitation rings in the Democratic Party. We already knew about Hillary, Podesta, and Epstein.

I suppose it depends on your definition of „child abuse“. The left tends to see children living in poverty, being exposed to violent crime, being exposed to toxic chemicals and poor air quality or living in families where the men physically beat their wives and children as „abused.“ The right defines abuse as „not being allowed to pray in school“ or „forced to wear a bike helmet.“.

The left doesn't give a damn about slum crime. Actually doing something about slum crime would be inconveniencing a Democratic Party mascot group.

As ever, no one can figure out if you're a fool or a fraud.

who is trying to figure that out? Why does anyone care what commentors on a blog think?

Opinions are about signalling how you're a good partner. For most social justice opinions, they signal you're compassionate. For rightwing opinions, they signal you're dutiful and maybe powerful.

Being very angry about child abuse is literally a dating red flag. It signals neither compassion nor power, rather it signals either unresolved issues or an inexplicable focus on family dysfunction.

That being said, until very recently (the 2010s) you would find outright defenders of child abuse that you wouldn't find today. The understanding of people as having their lives belong to themselves, not their ancestors, goes hand in hand with libertarianism. Non-aggression principle, etc. Plus, the feminist movement has led e.g. Meghan Markle to be public about family estrangement. Attitudes changed, even if it wasn't at the forefront of discussion.

Child abuse is a very difficult topic because, in general, parents are the ones that are both most motivated and best equipped to protect their children. So, when the parents are the abusers --- and I have difficulty believing that 30% of parents abuse their children, so maybe the author has a different type of child abuse in mind --- it's really difficult to figure out what to do without harming children overall by weakening the ability of (good) parents to raise their children.

Still, I would point to enforced helicopter parenting --- arresting/citing parents for child abuse or neglect for allowing their kids to play in the park or walk in the neighborhood alone, etc. --- as an example where we have fallen off our rockers about child abuse. That those examples are obviously counterproductive, or at least it should be obvious, in promoting child welfare just emphasizes the point that parents are usually by far the ones best trusted to protect their own children.

Parents and government are the chief abusers. Parents sexually mutilate their little atheist boy and girl babies and go on to brainwash them into a superstitious religion, santa claus, tooth fairy and all, for a few years before passing them off to public schools to continue with the brainwashing. I, too, oppose helicopter parenting and restrictions on free-range kids. The truth is that parents are not to be trusted in child-rearing, priests, ministers, teachers and cops are not to be trusted either, and the PTA needs to be reformed to encourage participation of all the non-breeders who are footing the bill for all the abuse, before and after.

As a politician, you don't want your name associated with negative thoughts such as child abuse (even if campaigning against it). I believe someone once said, people will remember two things about you. You can hope one is your name and the other is something positive.

Everyone would agree that child abuse is bad, including child abusers. Child abuse is NOT OK! Yet, there is much room to disagree about what "abuse" means, and the definition varies with time, and place. As usual, the OP has not mentioned what "abuse" and "maltreatment" means. Satanic Ritual Abuse for example has been ignored. It is a grave, rampant crisis, increasing exponentially, like COVID-19, as victims blossom into abusers, each new abuser vitimizing multiple victims. By some estimates (I read it on a forum) 100% of all Americans either have been sexually abused as children, or are themselves abusers, or both, or would be if they had the chance and could get away scot free. At least that's what I read on an internet site. Mutilating a child's genitals against their will, or without their consent, surely is ABUSE, and that is NOT OK! Exposing a child to hazardous toxins, toxic insects, lethal fungal spores, and potentially mutilating machinery (too many children have lost fingers in these things!) by compelling them to "mow" their so-called "parent's" lawn (which is actually an abuse against nature as well) is NOT OK! Jabbing them with needles and injecting toxins into them is NOT OK!
Not standing up against Evil and Abuse (and donating generously to advocacy groups) is the Greatest Evil and Abuse.
Ok, maybe I got a little carried away there. I'm not really that whacko.
Self-recommended: Evil Incarnate, by David Frankfurter, 2006, Princeton UP.

You are so right! Why should Jews and Muslims get a pass on mutilating the genitals of little atheist boys?

"again child abuse" =/= against child abuse.
I agree with those comments which 1) asked for the statistics demonstrating this claim but also 2) the definition of 'child abuse' is so broad as to be nearly meaningless 3) the most common abusers are other children, I'd bet; shall we lock them up? and 4) other than other kids, it is likely authority figures, mostly parents, and there is a general aversion to interfering with the child-parent relationship for obvious reasons.

Any contrarian hipsters going to take the other side? Come on you know you edgelords want to defend child abuse for imaginary social edginess points. Go on right ahead you closet pedos.

It may be instructive here to look back at the historic relationship between the U.K. Labour Party and the Paedophile Information Exchange - several key leftist figures in the 60s had decidedly ambivalent attitudes to the issue, including one later Deputy Leader. Basically grounded in leftist theories around moral relativism and non-discrimination. The Liberal party also had Cyril Smith in its ranks.

Many of the major abuse scandals have also come from state (or state-like in the case of the church) institutions, sometimes charities. That’s not to say it’s worse than intra-family abuse, I just don’t know. But it makes more headlines and shows how bad collective institutions can be at caring for individuals.

And yes, virtue signalling status is probably a big thing too. Doesn’t get you extra woke points to worry about this sort of thing.

Oh, and bet you my bottom dollar the 30% number is actually rubbish. Probably includes things like moderate physical correction of kids as abuse.

It's very easy to hate on child abusers for the things they have done but you know what? They are people too. They deserve our support. When they succeed we succeed.

Conservatives have used for centuries the argument of "child protection" to impose discrimination against minorities, women, homosexuals with total disregard for actual child abuse. For a very long time, notorious child abusers like some priests or Michael Jackson were involved in "child protection" to avoid suspicion. That's why a real progressive discourse against child abuse is nowadays inaudible.

Conservatives have used for centuries the argument of

Thanks for the mix of fantasy and anachronism. Been an education.

Western civilization was built on the ideas of ancient Greek paedophiles. Maybe that's why the Boomers enjoy screwing over the next generations like it was getting some sick man-boy action. Gen X barely hanging on, Millennials can't buy homes, and Gen Z graduated into the worst job market since the Great Depression.

"Hi Tyler, I’m a healthcare professional in Canada"

In the US, you would be a mandatory reporter of suspected child abuse, along with teachers and other school employees, social worker, etc.

It's a crime dealt with in family court if possible, otherwise criminal court.

What is the controversy. While specific acts are likely in law, most is common law which has evolved over the decades toward what I think is considered the "left"

Part of the problem is that child abuse tends to be committed by stepfathers, and single moms (who seek stepfathers for their kids) are as common as they are due to the sexual revolution.

Not sure that counts as heterodox when it's the plot to almost every freaking fairy tale.

If you return to debates in the seventies, there was a significant but loud minority on the, what we would now term the progressive side of politics, who were arguing for acceptance of paedophilia as an acceptable sexual orientation. This was part of the broader push for liberalisation of sexuality.
The left is silent partly because of its shameful past in this that it no longer wants to acknowledge

Farce. A significant and loud minority? Cite?



There are more.

Mommie Dearest. Remember that book about Joan Crawford? Anyway, I expect the usual comments at this blog about the "woke" crowd (like the "elites", it's not clear what makes somebody a member), but the group that I find odd is the Christianists. It's been side that, with that crowd, life begins at conception and ends at birth. And so it is when it comes to child abuse. Spare the rod, spoil the child. That comes from Proverbs. Visit any Walmart on a typical Saturday and be a witness. Me, fortunately I had loving parents who, if anything, were too tolerant of childish misbehavior. Others aren't so fortunate. And it leaves permanent scars. Have you read the award-winning short novel Normal People by Sally Rooney? It's been made into a 12-part miniseries on Hulu. While it's not exactly Mommie Dearest, abuse is a major theme in the book and the backdrop for the "complex" relationship between Marianne and Connell. Rooney is often described as the voice of her generation (she is 29). Who knew?

"Me, fortunately I had loving parents who, if anything, were too tolerant of childish misbehavior"

This is how children become lawyers.

If only that were true. Lawyers suffer abuse, maybe not when they were children, but in their professional lives. I'm often asked if I enjoy being a lawyer. My response: if not for other lawyers and clients, it would be a great job.

One thing that contributes to this that none of the other commentors pointed out is it's a problem without a solution hence no hay to make. In all countries orphans (or the PC term: foster children or wards of the state) have worse life outcomes than leaving them with the abuser outside the extremely low percentile egregious cases. So given that by engaging in this issue you are basically advocating making the average child victims life worse and that's not really a tenable political position.

What a garbage take. "With all their concerns about liberty and freedom, why has the right ignored children's right to be free from abuse? Is there little value for them in funding child protective services in the US?"

We all should care more about it. Let's keep the momentum on the amount of progress we have and not let conservatives push us back toward the good old days when parents and others regularly knocked around kids with few consequences.

Female genital mutilation is a dramatic example of the differences in culture on the planet and always described in the West as child abuse or worse. At the same time it's accepted and common to cut the end off the pecker of baby boys who can only wordlessly shriek in opposition. As long as the ridiculous custom of circumcision continues to exist concern over child abuse is a joke.

On the other hand, the left are certainly interested in this issue if allows,the, to target the catholic church. I am not suggesting that such abuses did not happen, but that the only reason that the left cares is because it is the Catholic Church

Silly, doesn't he know that children don't vote?

Why doesn't the "cultural left" focus more on DUI prevention? Or automobile safety?

A key problem -- aside from defining exactly what we mean by terms such as "cultural left" and "woke" -- is understanding whether there is low or even medium-hanging policy fruit waiting to be picked on the given topic. It seems to me that the U.S. and many other societies did a lot over the past 40 years in terms of cracking down on child sexual abuse, strengthening laws against abuse in general, enlisting the help of schools in prevention and monitoring programs, discouraging if not completely forbidding corporal punishment at home, etc. Did any parents in 1980 get arrested by police if they left a 9-year-old in a public park for a couple of hours?

A lot of people who are not necessarily experts on the subject might think, as with the case of automobile safety, DUI, etc., we are doing a lot to address the problem already and wouldn't be clear on what exactly to push for. What specific policy proposals does the above writer think are being neglected either by the "cultural left" specifically or mainstream society more generally?

I was recently on jury duty, and I got to hear too much about a case upon which I did not have to serve.

It was a child abuse case. And when anyone from education or healthcare was put in the box, a question from the judge was always "are you a designated reporter" or something like that. I gather from a responses but these people have had lot of training I took the responsibility seriously. So it seems quite built into the California legal system.

Another thing I noticed was that the men placed in the box more likely to tell the judge they just couldn't handle it. The women, even those with bad experiences in the past, were more likely to just deal.

In this case men are the weaker gender. Men saying "but I have daughters," women saying "yes I can serve."

A particularly mangled sentence:

"I gather from the responses that these people have had a lot of training and took the responsibility seriously."

And while we're on the subject of concrete things states do, why does California require "state approved firearms safety devices?"

The children.

That children may have the same rights as adults is controversial; that they may have additional or different rights from adults is beyond controversy. Few consider what these rights may be or why there is any point in their discussion.

On the Left, child abuse is just a term like racism that they use to achieve their other goals. Homeschooling is child abuse. Sending the kids to Bible Camp is child abuse. Encouraging pregnant 17 year old girls to carry their children to term rather than an abort them increases child abuse.
The Right fears ceding any ground to the Left and is thus afraid to look into problems in families.

Trivia: I know kids who successfully sued for emancipation, based on their homeschooling being a component of child abuse.

Not doubting you, but you know more than one kid that sued for emancipation? I'd guess most people don't know any, especially home schooled ones.

Brother and sister.

I’m guessing Mr Cowen needed more examples of mood affiliation from the commentariat.

Well done sir. Like moths to open flames.

Tyler likes to poke at obscure topics. But, yes, this one is probably just going to generate a lot of mood affiliated noise.

This whole comment thread is just the usual suspects throwing poo at each other, and their usual targets ('the left', 'the right', etc)

Shame what they've done with the place.

Yeah, it's a bit disappointing how few comments tackle the question asked.

How is abuse not being taken seriously?

In the US, entire institutions are being brought to bankruptcy by abuse scandals and reparations due to the change in awareness.

Anyone who wants to work around children as volunteers must be fingerprinted, background checked, take awareness courses, sign pledges, and never allowed themselves to be alone with children in a closed room or vehicle.

Stranger danger education has been replaced with "keep no secrets" education and body sovereignty training.

Teachers have a legal requirement to report any suspicion of abuse they observe. Most (liberal at least) education systems have entire staff departments devoted to family and social support - precisely oriented around detecting and addressing abuse and neglect.

Anyone caught abusing children gets branded for life and even after they serve their punishment end up on a registry, often homeless and unable to live anywhere or get a job.

That's for sexual abuse.

Physical abuse is pretty much been removed from our culture as allowable as punishment, not just from child discipline, but to hazing, to military training, to prison - often to the extent of consternation of the political right.

How is this not being taken seriously?

What we are left with is intra-family abuse. Often multi-generational patterns. Often associated with mental illness or substance abuse. Also associated with poverty and stress.

In short, the abuse we have the remaining problem with falls into the realms we have a general problem dealing with. Or even talking about.

So to that extent: okay. It's not a top five topic i agree.

So yes, let's do talk about family mental illness. I happen to think it is one of the biggest core problems we suffer as a culture. Broken parenting by broken parents: not just abuse, but the whole-shebang of failed attachment, poor modeling, inadequate support systems, and parents at their emotional limits who are barely getting by, repeating the mistakes their parents made, and perpetuating the patterns of emotional and family dysfunction.

So yes, let's do talk about family mental illness. I happen to think it is one of the biggest core problems we suffer as a culture. Broken parenting by broken parents: not just abuse, but the whole-shebang of failed attachment, poor modeling, inadequate support systems, and parents at their emotional limits who are barely getting by, repeating the mistakes their parents made, and perpetuating the patterns of emotional and family dysfunction.

No, let's not, until you and people like you can distinguish between banal human shortcomings and lunacy.

Well sure. One person's banal shortcomings is another lifetime emotional scar.

But the only way we can understand Trump followers these days is to apply some generous gaps in ordinary emotional development.

Because none of that works and the things that would work are utterly unpalatable to the left.

Most non-accidental trauma or sexual abuse occurs in the home. The amount done by the Jerry Sandusky's of the world or even the entire Catholic hierarchy of the world is not even 10% of the burden.

For instance, in emergency medicine the rate of non-accidental trauma in children with non-partnered couples is 850% of that among married couples. For lethal non-accidental trauma among children we are talking about 5,000%. By far and away the single biggest thing to limit child abuse would be to reduce the number of single mothers and unmarried cohabiting couples (particularly among unrelated individuals). This has been a talking point for years among the traditionalist right, it is generally correct (and is rock solid in correlational terms), and it is completely ignored or derided.

Likewise, in the vast majority of sexual abuse cases that I have seen, the narrative is not that the adult coerces the child or imposes sexuality. Instead sex as described as pleasurable and a means of self-expression. The broad narrative that sex is a fundamental right, parents should not or cannot police their children's sexuality, and that everyone does it are stock and trade of grooming children. Again, this is typically a sibling or other relative. Adopting a firm line that parents (or anyone else) can police the sexuality of minors is antithetical to the left. After all, the left is wholly onboard with irreversible sterilization of minors. Most think it should be done in spite of any parental objections. You cannot preach total sexual autonomy on one hand and then be shocked when that message is coopted by predators as I have seen happen countless times.

The vast majority of sexual abusers I have had to testify against are not being background checked and even if they were, they would have passed with flying colors. The vast majority of abusers signed no pledges and I am doubtful that someone willing to commit felonies will be stopped by pieces of paper. The vast majority of children I have treated for sexual abuse initially believed they were exercising bodily sovereignty (and these kids are far worse off than the rare cases where they were blackmailed or physically coerced from the start). The vast majority were not recidivists and again as the vast majority either cohabit or are directly related to the child registries accomplish nothing.

Likewise, banning physical discipline has been basically useless outside the home. Physical abusers are largely other children or family members. As noted above, the most common perpetrator is mom's boyfriend. It is also much more concentrated in cultures where corporal punishment is still much more extant. Yet nobody talks about this because they hate the idea of limiting sexual freedom (no living with your boyfriend if you have kids) or talking about the dangerous parts of black or other minority culture.

If you want to talk about drug policy, well again what would actually move the needle would be making alcohol harder to come by. It would also require that we treat everyone with problematic drinking patterns (something like a quarter or a third of all non-occasional drinkers) as needing intervention and ideally social sanction. Yet, we continue to undertax alcohol relative to its social cost. We repeal blue laws, state monopolies on hard liquor, and every other impediment to getting cheaply and regularly drunk. We have done absolutely piss all while AUD rates having been climbing for a generation.

And when it comes to drugs? Well out in Colorado they recently voted to legalize psychedelics.

Again and again our alcohol and drug policies start from the assumption that the wealthy and educated's perspective is normative. It isn't. The vast majority of the ills are concentrated in a minority of users and the vast majority of pediatric death certificates I have signed have come directly from cheap and easily accessible alcohol.

Actually making a dent in child abuse is going to require delving into family dynamics. It almost certainly will requiring buttressing families lower on the socio-economic scale by re-establishing and reinforcing norms that impinge on the freedom of the upper classes to avoid harms they would never suffer. Thus it will never happen.

Instead we will continue to slow progress of getting wealthier and pulling more people out of poverty in hopes that increased material abundance will lead to behavior changes. By my eye this will only take a couple of generations to get back towards 1950s levels of child well being for the mean child.

Well, that's a lot of words to end up basically agreeing with me, except for trying to somehow make this all about the left.

Maybe I misread you, but my take is that we continue to hyperventilate about the most rare forms of abuse (non-related, non-cohabiting sexual abuse) and ignore the most common forms (cohabiting non-accidental trauma, incestual sexual abuse).

The people who cause physical trauma to their kids are not going to be swayed by anti-spanking drives. The vast majority know it is wrong and do it when they get stressed, drunk, or most commonly both.

The people who sexually assault kids typically appeal to their autonomy and tell them they are "mature" and can choose to do something "special".

Frankly, I suspect we make it worse for the majority of survivors by "taking things seriously" in way I have all too often seen victims interpret as "their fault". Telling a kid they have bodily autonomy is bad when they already are guilty for having "agreed". Saying spanking is beyond the pale, means that all corporal punishment is somewhat clandestine and social networks cover longer believing that "do-gooders" (i.e. me) are just reacting to simple spankings. I do not know how many times mom has told it "it was just a whoopin", right up until I show them the x-rays.

Maybe I am wholly off base but a lot of "taking it seriously" strikes me as theater that is useless at best and has been actively harmful numerous times with my patients.

The people who cause physical trauma to their kids are not going to be swayed by anti-spanking drives. The vast majority know it is wrong

What? Spanking?

Non-accidental trauma. If I can see it on an X-ray, it is not a spanking. Yet somehow I get people who burn their kids with cigarettes, use power cords for beatings, and all the rest. Typically they were drunk and have some other excuse for why they beat a child. None of them suggest that the breaks in the bones were their divine right for correcting their children.

People do horrific things because they lack the ability to weigh the advisability of the act in the moment, not because they fail to know how society views it.

Not alcohol, but religion, is the greatest killer in the history of the world by far and the greatest threat to children from male and female GSM and indoctrination that turns a child, always born atheist, into a brainwashed religious adult.

My point was that the OP article was a condemnatation of (mainly the left) for its failure to be intellectually consistent and not making an issue of child abuse.

So I pointed out that in fact a lot has been "done" that is very consistent - albeit focused on the third-party type of abuse that is as we both know the minority.

And I believe that the remainder of the abuse, the bulk of it, also gets a lot of attention but it is a much thornier issue, since it wraps in families, poverty, mental illness etc. Nevertheless, there is a variety of education and mechanisms aimed at doing something about it.

Your point then was that what has been done in this realm is not effective. Ok, fair enough, but the OP was that nothing was being done. And I disagree with that.

I would submit that at least a good half of it is downright counterproductive. It makes the kids feel worse when their abuse does not follow the implicit narrative. It makes the social networks more resistant to stopping abuse by conflating levels of harm. And leaves far too victims believing they were responsible.

One issue is that institutional responses to child abuse are predominantly carceral. Many on the left have recognized that the problems of policing are replicated—indeed, amplified—in the context of responses to child abuse. These issues have been documented going back decades, such as by Dorothy Roberts' 2002 book Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare. The current ambivalence towards whether the progressive orientation is to defend parents or represent children in juvenile court proceedings is captured in this New Yorker piece, in the split between Carol Sherman (pro-intervention) and Martin Guggenheim (pro-defending parents): https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/08/07/when-should-a-child-be-taken-from-his-parents

Keeping attention on the institutional response, the overwhelming majority of child welfare proceedings in New York are based on *neglect* (overwhelmingly related to poverty and lack of resources) and not *abuse.* This feeds into the (IMO, correct) critique that the child welfare system is better at policing poverty, especially among people of color, than doing what's best for children.

Finally, I would challenge one aspect of the premise of the question. Consistent with the narrative I've presented here, the left's ambivalence towards institutional responses to child abuse manifests in lack of engagement observable in, as the questioner puts it, the "culture wars and various elections," but that doesn't mean there's no sustained left engagement. There are organizations like Generation Five, Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective, and others that approach child abuse from a prison abolitionist perspective—and have been organizing around them for years. It would be difficult to overstate the influence of these organizations, which center domestic violence including child abuse, within the abolitionist left.

Children not growing up with two stably married parents are at much greater risk for being abused. No one wants to talk about this because there is no significant lobby in the United States for ending the Sexual Revolution, and if there were, it would not reside on the left.

The fact that children don’t vote is only a partial explanation. There are barely any transgender votes in America (and they are not really up for grabs), yet Joe Biden described transgender issues as “the civil rights issue of our time” and until a world-ending pandemic came along that was all we could talk about.

Most of the social causes on the left are driven by identity. No one identifies as a child.

On the right, causes are driven just as much by identity in the Trump era, in my opinion, but the Right to Life movement is an example of a cause taken up without identity as the primary motivation (whether you agree with it or not). Most see themselves as advocates of the unborn.

"Most see themselves as advocates of the unborn."

Actually, most of them see themselves as opponents of the left. This is in fact the only consistent unifying principle of the right in this modern GOP era.

Anywhere from a fifth to a third of Democrats identify as pro-life depending on the poll. In fact there are more pro-life Democrats than there are black Democrats (obviously membership overlaps).

Few, if any, of these people see themselves as anti-left.

Further about a fifth to a third of Republicans are pro-choice. They do view themselves as anti-left, but somehow did not get onboard with the pro-life label or policies.

Abortion is actually one those rare issues where people change their self-definition from left-to-right (or right-to-left) as their previous grouping becomes increasingly hostile to their self-identification.

Leftwing pro-lifers are dying out as ever more burdens for ideological conformity are being pushed downward in the Democratic Party ranks. After all Al Gore got be pro-life until he became vice-president. Now even being a sitting congressman with pro-life views is a bridge too far for the majority of the left. A similar, albeit less direct, process is occurring on the right.

"a similar but less direct"

Can you name five leading openly pro choice Republicans? Three?

Senator Susan Collins
Governor Larry Hogan
Senator Lisa Murkowski
Governor Charlie Baker
Governor Phil Scott

I mean, sure, you could argue about "leading" but that is the strata from which Biden, Clinton, Obama, Kerry, Gore, and Clinton were tapped to either run or become VP as the heir presumptive. At the same strata you have for the Democrats you have:

Governor John Bel Edwards
Senator Joe Manchin
Senator Bob Casey

In general, Democrats have been more aggressively contesting the primaries against pro-life candidates, even in very conservative areas. Their mix of issues has allowed them win a few places (e.g. KY, KS, NC, MT) without moderating their pro-choice bona fides.

Republicans who win in Democratic strongholds tend to have to be pro-choice (e.g. Scott Brown) they pretty much have to be at least vaguely pro-choice.

I have seen a lot of Democratic pro-lifers go down in the primaries and nowhere near as many pro-choice Republicans. The forcing driving these things are similar, it is just a more organized and increasingly institutionalized effort on the Democratic side. I mean why else would Congressman Ryan flip on the position when his whole presidential campaign revolved around being a centrist Democrat willing to buck the party? There is not a pro-choice voter in the country who believes he truly champions their cause. But there are a heckuvalot of important people in the Democratic party who cannot and will not abide a pro-life Candidate at the top. I expect that Casey and Manchin may well be the last pro-life democrats in the Senate (Casey's replacement as Democratic candidate is likely going to come out of or be highly beholden to Philly and its pro-choice proclivities, Manchin really does look like the last broadly popular Democrat in a state Trump wins massively). I suspect that the Republicans may be able to cobble together new successful pro-choice candidates in NH and AK due the strong libertarian streak in those states. I could see possibly something similar in NM, ME, or MN.

Ultimately, I suspect we eventually see monolithic parties on this issue, just not for another generation.

Despite your good faith effort to fulfill my challenge. I have to say that you are literally the only person I have encountered in decades who did not argue that the parties weren't already monolithic on this question. The occasional Susan Collins/Rand Paul-esque exception notwithstanding.

I read the actual survey data. As I said, about one-third to one-fifth of each party crosses type.

Suffice it to say, the surveys show us that pro-life democrats are more numerous than black Democrats.

I would bet down closer to the one-fifth end for all practical purposes, but the heterogeneity dies slowly.

That a few people - such as yourself - are obsessed with something does not mean most people are obsessed with talking about it.

As other's have mentioned, child abuse is most prevalent among lower income families. This is probably a result of the self-reproducing aspect in which abusers were abused and how that entire process if fueled by psychological stresses (income, status), but also undermines abused individuals ability to function, and thus escape their abusers social status.

It's roundly denounced, but there aren't a lot of solutions that aren't already being pursued which don't have cultural roadblocks.

In the case of sexual harassment, there are high profile people to attack, who are hiding behind power coming from their status. Attacking that privilege ends up being an effective strategy for creating a movement that eliminates barriers to improvement.

In the case of child abuse, it's not clear how that would work. The biggest barrier's are probably our privacy regimes and the old notions of head of family. Both of those are broad enough, and have defenses that are not connected to child abuse to make campaigning against them not so effective in comparison to campaigning against the abuse of power to shield sexual harassment.

Not to mention that addressing these forms of abuse run aground in the same place as everything else: addressing poverty, putting money towards health and mental health, strengthening public health and social services.

Coincidentally, our failure to properly invest in public health is a big problem at the moment for a different reason.

Yeah, isn't it a shame that the administrations after GWB failed to maintain the infrastructure he told them was vital to national security?

Indeed. Especially the Trump administration. Who was in charge when the threat moved from theoretical to actual.

The organized sexual abuse of hundreds of children in Rotherham was covered up for years by the police and other officials - because they were more concerned they would be accused of racism than they were about the kids. Rotherham was not unique. Very woke indeed.

Simpler explanation: abuse was covered up because it was being done by fellow police and public officials.

Perhaps simpler, but wrong. The coverup was considerably more widespread than any participation. It was for years generally ignored and then downplayed by the press, who would have happily headlined any transgressions against PC norms.

Ordinarily, when police and officials are involved in crimes, the police and officials fail to investigate it, and the coverup ends up being widespread.

But sure, it is possible that in this case, they were ready to investigate each other and themselves, but got caught up in PC stuff about racism.

For the most part, the liberal scold-causes are weapons contra people they wish to injure and silence. People who beat their children are usually lumpenproletarian women who do not possess anything gentry liberals want and may be conceived of as clients (ergo mental energy will be deployed to shift the blame for their behavior onto social segments who are not clientele).

The sexual violation of youth is also of no interest unless it can be deployed against 'the patriarchy'. The object here is to incorporate into family law a presumption that fathers are not to be in the vicinity of their children unless the mother permits it; their role is to provide an income for the mother. Another object is to strip targeted value-generating institutions of their influence by being assiduous-and-then-some at identifying the abuses of their most problematic members, while ignoring institutions not targeted.

Note in this discussion that people with a greater or lesser degree of association with the homosexual subculture account for just shy of 3% of the adult population at any one time but about 1/3 of the identified cases of sexual violation of youth. The propensity to violate youth exceeds that of the remainder exceeds that by about 16 to 1 (among Catholic clergy it was about 12 to 1 over the period running from 1950 to 2002). Since the comfort and convenience the homosexual population is key to gentry liberals, the impulse will be to ignore this phenomenon as much as possible until sufficient battlespace preparation has been done. One is to manufacture within clinical psychology, social work, and the law attitudes which will permit heterogeneous treatment for sexual violation of youth and professional harassment of anyone who even suggests uniform treatment. The preferred end state is one where sexual violation of youth by women remains unlawful but ignored, where sexual violation by homosexuals is ignored by the courts but reconceptualized as 'healthy' by the social work and mental health trade, and sexual violation by ordinary mean is treated as a heinous crime.

The party that tried to sneak in funding for abortion into the COVID relief package, that's supposed to save lives? They don't care about child abuse?

Versus, say, the party that is using the crisis to eliminate pollution and workplace safety laws

Yep, apples to apples, to the psychotic.

Indeed, increasing toxic pollution is pathological.

it harms 100% of our children

and arguably is a significant cause of preventible premature death

and weakening the laws does not belong in covid legislation

Because victimhood is the currency of Leftism.

There is only so much of it to go around, and the Dems want to be in charge of handing it out. There are 6-10 groups that they believe deserve Victim Status, and they correspond neatly to voting blocks.

Why would they divert any of this victimization to children, who don't even vote, for God's sake?

The enforcement of child abuse laws is often done by those with a 'woke' worldview. This view encourages kid gloves treatment of the single welfare mom but goes with a boot-stomp-to-the-face to a suburban middle class parent who let their 10 year olds walk to the park. Note the woke hatred of the Free Range Kids movement.

Also, intra-family abuse cases are hard work and take significant resources to prosecute. The same dynamic exists in gun law enforcement. Many jurisdictions ignore straw purchasing crimes due to complexity and the lower class types who commit them. Much easier and satisfying to harass registered firearms dealers with a storefront. They are easy to find and they vote for the wrong side. Win-win.

Agreed. Social work is a pseudo-profession which should disappear.

As an alternative, we might conceive of child protective and allied functions as a dimension of law enforcement. Have teams of cross-trained sheriff's deputies, psychologists, and public health nurses run the child-protective and foster care service.

Front line child abuse investigators are almost never degreed social workers and definitely not licensed ones. They are low-level civil servants and would not be described as "woke." There is sometimes not a lot of social distance between these investigators and the families they investigate.

almost never degreed social workers

Let go of my leg.

The managers are degreed social workers; the investigators are more likely to have a 2 or 4 year degree in Human Services. Or are working provisionally with some other background entirely. It's not an easy job to fill, for obvious reasons.

Uh huh.

Two-year degrees in human services awarded each year number 6.700 at this time. The sum of two and four year degrees would be 8,000 per year. BSW and MSW degrees awarded each year number 28,000 and 24,000 respectively. You could add in associates degree's in social work to your annual increment of human services degrees. As these number 21,400 per year at this time, that means another 29,000 added to the ranks of paraprofessionals v. 52,000 to professionals. (Presumably, some of the AA holders later cadge a BA, btw). That's quite a ratio of 'managers' to front line staff.

The ratio of the stock of social workers to annual degree awards is about 13 to 1. That's actually a great deal lower than what's the norm for licensed professions, which is typically around 22.5 to 1. Currently, north of 40% of these social workers have a BA in an irrelevant subject, so the ratio of social workers with the degree to annual degree recipients is 7.5 to 1. Fascinating to speculate why academe trains so many social workers who then leave the profession (while agencies are hiring people off the street). I'm aware of one other occupation where you've seen this pattern: journalism.

Privileged mom: I'm over here pushing vegetables and providing a great life for my children. Yet, I live in fear of some busy body telling the police that I left my child in their car seat for a minute while I took a bag into the house. There's a nontrivial group of us who fear the power of the state to separate families. That might limit the will to push harder against the rights of parents. I read some story about some mom in Florida who had her kid out in the yard for an hour and the state took him away... or something. And I can't forget it.

The moderator and his correspondent betray no sense that there might be some dispute over what is meant by 'child abuse' or that the social-work-and-family-court subculture might have definitions that ordinary people would not recognize. (I'm recalling the case of a clergyman in Massachusetts ca. 2002 whose child was seized by the local social work apparat. The reason? The child had been spanked with a belt).

Nobody wants to talk about it because nobody has any obvious solutions. Breaking up the families of low-income mostly minorities is off the table because nobody wants to take those kids and they'll likely be worse off in some sort of foster home. Can you imagine a state run facility (i.e. orphanage) housing thousands of children who have been abused being much better? Orphanages have a long history in our culture of being places where children are generally maltreated, which is not unlikely given everything we know about human psychology. I don't think I recall single story involving an orphanage run by a nice nun who was very kind and loved all the children where they were well cared for.
There's an adoption market for *very* small children, but most of the kids are minorities, we have policies against placing minority children with white families, and we don't want to incentivize systematically transferring children from low-income families to wealthier ones.
Finally child protective services already does a terrible job, haphazardly charging parents with neglect for trivial things like letting their kids walk home from school, and missing the worst cases of abuse - which is understandable because they don't have hidden cameras in people's homes so they just have to basically do random guesswork based bruises and doctors reports.

If someone came up with a set of policies that sounded like they would actually work, people might pay more attention to it.

Finally a LOT already has been done in terms of altering cultural norms. It's already verboten to spank kids. Any sort of physical corporal punishment is subject to shaming. There just isn't a lot of "work" to be done on that front.

Back in the kids-on-milk-cartons era (ca. 1985), Michael Kinsley, always a bit of a contrarian, noted that 'an eager beaver government study' by a unit of the Department of Health and Human Services came to the determination that less than 2% of the children in the United States were suffering from 'abuse and neglect' in the home at any one time. In New York, < 1% of the youth of the state were enmeshed in the foster care system at that time. It's reasonable to assume the problem of parents physically injuring their children or leaving them unfed and unbathed is actually one of modest dimensions.

Minority status is a terrible predictor of a child's likelihood of being adopted when corrected for presence and severity of behavioral issues. Age is a much better predictor than race and if memory serves around 6 is when placement times get long. Gender, I think, is also a better predictor as girls are much easier to get adopted than buys (the data supports this as girls typically have fewer behavioral issues than boys).

Regardless, one of the major obstacles for adoption is the difficulty in terminating parental rights even in cases of non-accidental trauma.

And yes I can imagine an orphanage being better. Having worked with ones overseas in warzones I have first hand experiences with ones that would be vastly healthier for children, in my professional opinion as mandatory reporter and one of the people legally obligated to place an emergency hold on kids to begin separating them from their parents. It would likely be massively cheaper and better for the kids. From the many adoptive parents I know (I used to do health exams for the county which was mandatory for all adoptions involving involuntary termination of parental rights), they preferred working with orphanages because the behavioral issues were much less.

Cultural norms have ample space to change. The single most effective change would be to reduce rates of cohabitation among single mothers and their boyfriends. Better still, having a cultural norm of only having children after marriage would dramatically reduce rate of non-accidental trauma.

Spanking, and other corporal punishment, has not been a major driver of abuse in a generation. It is still prevalent in minority communities, but by far and away cohabitation and alcohol use patterns are larger contributors.

Frankly our child abuse policies all center around movies. The perpetrators envisioned are outside the home, are acting with premeditation, and doing these things because they either are ignorant or wholly evil.

In reality the majority of non-accidental trauma and sexual assault tends to be within the family, is opportunistic, and is driven by intoxication and disinhibition. It has been this way for decades.

An exceedingly simple set of rules would have prevented around 90% of all the abuse I have ever seen:
1. Get married before cohabitating.
2. For the love of God, do not have kids if your relationship is not stable.
3. If you have kids, do not cohabit for the first five years of the relationship; if possible have your new partner adopt the kid(s).
4. Limit alcohol consumption; make it hard to acquire and consume large quantities of alcohol when emotionally distressed.
5. Don't do drugs.

Our society's view of child abuse is from the movies, not reality. Shockingly it does precious little to help the children who are most vulnerable.

Your 5 rules rock.

Rule #4 (alcohol consumption) is profound - those who can't handle booze should simply not drink. And that's probably 15% of parents raising kids.

I do not know long term stable heavy drinkers.
I known long term stable pot smokers.

Winston Churchill was famous as a "long-term heavy drinker." Hitler was a tee-totaler, as is Trump.l Which is our hero?

I have always been partial to Abraham Lincoln:

The legalized liquor business is the tragedy of our civilization. Alcohol is the greatest and most blighting curse of our modern civilization. The liquor seller is simply and only a privileged malefactor - a criminal.

The liquor sellers provide the substance that drives Indians insane so we must kill them both.

"The impact and costs of this have been measured (low academic achievement, health problems, low earnings, drug and alcohol use, etc.), and child abuse is sometimes lethal."

Incidentally, my wife and I watched Colonia. A "true" story about a cult in Chile with political connections with the Pinochet dictatorship set around 1973.

The afterward was that the politically connected leader escaped justice for decades but was finally convicted in 2004 of hundreds of cases of child abuse. It's pretty astounding that he kind of brutality depicted in the movie would continue for that long.

My guess, based on a few of the other comments and a gloss over modern fiction (tv, movies, books): it's an activity which is low status when low status people engage in it. It's potentially understandable when high status people do it.

Thinking of entirely of *fiction tropes*: those in clearly self-inflicted poverty let their abuse spill out into the community making it visible how inept they are. The perpetrators themselves are self-evident poster people for the crimes they commit. High status people are competent enough to keep it hidden - partly because the abuse is more psychological - from their community and they have legions of high status assistants (psychiatrists) helping them work through their existential pain.

Culture Wars Critic made the point that if you're not powerful then activist progressives aren't interested in taking a swipe at those they have branded wholly as deplorable - everything the poor do is awful already. Thinking of Kling's three-axis framework, it's tough to call the oppressed the oppressor if that's how you view the world.

It may be the narcissists who make up a huge proportion of loud activists - regardless of political stripe - might be perpetrators making it politically unpalatable.

The other thought, not based on fiction tropes: abusive behaviour is highly heritable and there is not as clear a cause/effect chain as Kaan's third paragraph suggests.

Yeah, and there is the element that people just don't want to think about it happening on their street.

It makes us feel better to "distance" it one way or another.

As the judge from my jury story said, "nobody wants to be here."

How much child abuse is related to alcohol?
Craft beer and wine drinking seem to be raising the status of alcohol.

The majority in my experience. With greater likelihood of contribution the more severe the abuse. I cannot recall a single lethal case where I did not have drug or alcohol use involved.

You ask how much child abuse is related to alcohol? I ask how much is related to religion, knowing that both Jews and Muslims sexually mutilate their atheist babies. Lots of those abusers abstain from alcohol altogether.

this is really scraping the bottom of the barrel. will tyler post any email that he gets now? what is there to think about?

tyler, why have you not been more vocal about child abuse, huh? i know everyone is against it, but i'm sure there's more to it than that...

There is a pretty big left vs. right divide on child abuse in the US, even if it isn't a campaign issue. I have two good examples off the top of my head. One example is anti-corporal punishment/spanking laws. Another is defining failure to give a child medical attention for religious reasons as child abuse. The left is solidly for such provisions, while a good portion of the right broadly, and particularly the religious right, view such laws as an infringement on the rights of parents.

There are some examples where the left vs. right divide is not *quite* as clear, for example female genital mutilation and underage marriage. A *small* portion of the left express concerns that these laws might infringe on minority religions, whereas much of the US right is against it because they are not christian things, and so their usual "keep government out of the family" exemptions don't apply. However, adherents to these religions skew conservative, in an absolute sense. This is, quite obviously, hypocritical on both sides. For what it is worth, I consider myself far to the left (though I am a weird leftist and favor uncommon positions, like sortition, have no affiliations with any major left party or group, and frankly not much in common with most of the US or international left) and am against FGM, marriage under 16, and the circumcision of male infants for good measure (for god's sake, don't turn this into a thread on the merits of male circumcision, I will not respond, and I assure you *I am not equivocating* or unfamiliar with the literature. I'm sure you want to say something, but please control yourself). I'm consistent, if nothing else.

I think the main reason that it doesn't get as much attention is that, ironically, the pro-abuse voices on these issues are much louder and more organized. In a way, it is similar to gun rights. A clear majority favor universal background checks, but implementing them is still politically difficult.

Sorry, finished my post a little early.

At the same time, child abuse in the home does not have nearly the same visibility as gun violence, so that makes fighting against it politically exhausting -- huge public support and largely uncontroversial, so few resources are allocated, yet simultaneously nothing ever gets done. It's a sad state of affairs, and we really ought to be doing better.

Yes, you're going to get pushback if you attempt to criminalize corporal punishment. It's not difficult to understand why. Liberals specialize in being obtuse.

AF wants to beat his children in peace.

"A clear majority favor universal background checks, but implementing them is still politically difficult."

The very vocal minority 'pro-gun' side does not trust jurisdictions with serious enforcement of any new background check law.

Enforcement of current laws - those like 'straw buyer' and the federal 5-year penalty for 'felons in possession' are enforcement jokes.

Because the cultural left takes its orders from the Vatican.

Here's the deal with this. There IS a real problem with child porn and sexual abuse and it does receive shockingly little emphasis.

-Jeffrey Epstein. Feds gave this guy a pass for years. Indisputably. Media also was running cover for him although a few good journalists like Vicky Ward knew something was up with this guy as far back as 2002. They started covering it only after their complicity was exposed.

-There has been an explosion of child porn online in the last several years. There was a dark web forum called "The Love Zone" run by a piece of filth named Shannon McCoole that finally got shut down a couple of years ago. It was a child pornography forum run out of Australia. The outrageous thing is that according to court documents, the site had 30,000 members! 30,000! Even worse, THEY REQUIRED YOU TO POST YOUR OWN "ORIGINAL" MATERIAL TO REMAIN ON THE FORUM. Think about the implications of that for a moment. That's 30,000 producers (not merely consumers) and that's just that one site.

-Dennis Hastert has now been confirmed to be a pervert and sexual predator (wrestling coach/homosexual/pederast). This man was Speaker of the House! I suspect many Americans are completely unaware of this extraordinary fact. (I also suspect that more than a few of our “leaders” have risen in the ranks precisely because they are vulnerable in some way and thus more easily controlled.)

All three of the above stories shocked me. And we don't even have the full story on Epstein and his obvious Mossad connections. More flabbergasting still is how little emphasis this stuff gets in the media (they made an exception with the Catholics because that was useful for undermining the church). When they are forced to cover something (like Epstein) they will tend to try to bring it back to one of their preferred narratives. With Epstein or Weinstein they will spin it as a story about “privileged rich white men” and often pivot to feminist/me too type stuff. It’s quite telling how they frame these scandals when they do cover them.

I think the key reason for the lack of emphasis is that on the right there’s already an impression that the country is run by perverts and satanists. Hence they are hesitant to report anything that would confirm that and fuel such “conspiracy theories." More broadly they don’t want to destroy public faith in establishment institutions (too late).

-Dennis Hastert has now been confirmed to be a pervert and sexual predator

You think your kid is in danger from the adipose, 77 year old Dennis Hastert?

He appears to have had sexual contact with four adolescent males more than 40 years ago. It's not clear from news reports what he's supposed to have done. It appears to have been fondling or masturbation. Three of the youths were on a wrestling team, with scant doubt quite capable of fighting back if they had the idea to do so. Two of them started blackmailing him when they got wind of his lobbying income. There's more than one way to be predatory.

Art's commitment to hypocrisy at all costs leads him to defending sexual predation of minors. I'm sure this post would look the same if Obama was the pervert being discussed.

msgkings commitment to stalking me is extensive and intensive enough to include blatantly misconstruing a post whose meaning is plain and sits right above her post. I gather Tyler told you you had to eat all the sh!t sandwiches.

Two useful resources for those interested in further reading on reducing Child Abuse as a potential avenue for Effective Altrium efforts:

1. High signal-noise ratio discussion of the matter, from 1-year ago: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/C5diBK7sJmoYWdrCs/is-preventing-child-abuse-a-plausible-cause-x

2. Summary of the cause and the ways in which it might currently be neglected: http://jiwoonhwang.org/physical-punishment-of-children-the-neglected-3-6-trillion-year-problem/

I think part of the problem is that this does not yield to easy macro level solutions. A macro problem like, say, low skilled workers not able to make a living wage could be tackled with multiple macro strategies (living wages, UBI, earned income tax credit, education subsidies, etc.).

Macro problem solvers, though, often ignore micro solutions - say resume prep classes offered at a local library or church, 'Dress for Success', networking groups and so on.

Institutional child abuse is easy to target on the marco level. We can have investigations of churches and schools that chronically protect abusers. We can tweak liability laws and prosecutors can mount racketeering cases that will bolster their careers.

Beyond that child abuse happens in micro environments. Parents and family. But there is no "Church of Family" assigning moms and dads to kids the way the Catholic Church might assign priests to parishes. Each case of child abuse is unique and has to be investigated as unique. Hence the only time we see a 'macro' approach might be attempts to reform state Department of Youth & Family Services and requirements that certain professions report suspected child abuse (doctors, teachers, priests etc.).

I think it is worth considering whether we have neglected macro solutions on child abuse just as we might have overlooked micro solutions in other areas. For example, family leave & income support policies that relieve financial stress probably do alleviate some child abuse. Targeting drug abuse and reforming the criminal justice system away from jamming people up for life with convictions when not absolutely necessary for serious crimes adds stability to families.

For example, family leave & income support policies that relieve financial stress probably do alleviate some child abuse.

Mo' money for Democratic Party clients. Can't let an abiding human problem go to waste.

Indeed because the future economy will be spawned by hedge fund manager and coupon clipping old money dirtbags.

In my mind there's really pedophilia then there's other types of child abuse and lumping those under one term of "child abuse" is meaningless, which is why no one talks about it.

There's quite a bit done on pedophilia on all levels from child pornography laws, trafficking prosecution down to the pleas to be on the lookout for individual children who may report it.

From the 'top down' might part of the problem be policy makers do not want to get into debates over cultural issues like "is spanking child abuse"?

Many of the arguments about child abuse pivot too easily into arguments about late term abortions.

I'm probably too late, but there's an easy answer here: because it's a bummer.

I work in this field, and the number one thing laypeople don't understand is that abuse is very far from the most common cause of child mistreatment--it makes up less than 18% of cases (https://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/media-room/nca-digital-media-kit/national-statistics-on-child-abuse/). The far more typical case is that of neglect, usually related to drug or alcohol abuse. So to solve the issue you have to do one of two things:
- treat addiction, which is notoriously difficult and inconsistent, with the latter being a particular problem given that the consequences of inconsistency are apt to also hurt the children
- permanently separate a parent who (subjectively, at a minimum) loves their child from that child

It's a sordid business where the consequences of mistakes are dire, and where you tend to find far fewer villains than you expect. It's not fun to think about, so you don't.

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