American Statistics

By Robert Whiston FRSA – 26 April 2009

Britain’s statistics were adequate and ‘fit for purpose’ in the first half of the 20th century. They satisfactorily tracked salient social and economic trends and, in parts, in great detail, e.g.  live births, still births, births inside marriage, out-of-wedlock births, legitimate and illegitimate births by gender age of mother etc (see Fig 9 and Fig 15 http://robertwhiston.wordpress.com/2006/10/01/13/ and http://cohabitationlaw.wordpress.com/2009/03/31/00001/)

But today, in the post-Roy Jenkins era of ‘multi-culturalism’, we have little idea of the ethnicity of births and how many boys and girls are in each racial category (see ‘Born but not Properly Counted’ http://www.straightstatistics.org/article/born-not-properly-counted).

We keep detailed records later on in their lives so society cannot be accused of, say, educational or job discrimination, but we have no idea what the new profile the emerging generations looks like. Similarly, we have no ethnic breakdown as to abortions performed and our grasp of cohabiting is equally foggy.

Unlike America we have no public access to the breakdown of murders and serial murderer or rapists and serial rapists. The Home Office appears to have no separate criminal index code to distinguish either. In terms of homicide we have no comprehensive breakdown that links type of weapon, age, gender, motive, ethnicity, and relationship between victim and perpetrator and this absence of detail carries over into child abuse where age and gender of victim and perpetrator are no longer recorded.

It is not that we can’t or never have – its more down to the eradication of the annual Family Court Reporter was put out of business by the Children Act 1989, and that the analysis by Susan Creighton of NSPCC data appears unknown to the present management NSPCC.

The Family Court Reporter was so comprehensive in that it listed identity of perpetrators by age, by sex and by other indicators, such as relationship, including biological father vs. step-fathers, marital status and socio-economic status that it was quoted before the US congressional Sub-Committee on Crime of the House Judiciary Committee(Sept 29th 1999) by the prestigious “Heritage Foundation”. We have thrown the Family Court Reporter source away.

Questions from Men’s Aid, a fathers’ charity, to the minister for Children Young People and Families, Beverley Hughes, MP, generated a reply from a ‘Jill Sewell’, of the Public Communications Unit, who, on June 16, 2006 wrote:

“Unfortunately we do not collect any information on child abuse perpetrators, just on children.” [1]

The public would never guess, given the disinformation about fathers and child abuse, that “fathers have often played the protector role inside families” (Adrienne Burgess).

The relevance of the above to cohabiting and statistics is that there is a safety pecking order starting with the safest form of family, the traditional 2 parent married family, moving on to the married step-family, cohabiting biological parents, cohabiting non-biological parents, and finally single mothers – with or without transient “father figures” for their children. (See also “The Truth About Child Abuse”, By Stephen Baskerville, Human Events, Vol. 58, no. 16, 29 April 2002, p. 14).

Where can the British public find the data that demonstrates that some forms of child abuse are close

to being gender specific ? For instance, who realises that 1). emotional abuse and 2) neglect, the two most numerous categories, are dominated by female perpetrators ? Where do we find out that in terms of child abuse perpetrators that:- [2]

  • The types of abuse reported and verified had changed, from a preponderance of physical abuse cases in 1974 (64% of cases) to a preponderance of emotional abuse/neglect in 1983 (50% of cases)’
  • “No change was found in the identity of the suspected perpetrators – primarily fathers and/or mothers – or in the social conditions of the families.” 
  • ‘The vast majority of existing studies either do not give a breakdown of their sample in terms of offender type or do not present recidivism results for each type’

 

British statistics are too polite to name and shame women as child abusers. Even professional and technical manuals cannot bring themselves to include mothers and females as perpetrators, e.g. The Child Protection Handbook, p 40 & p 76. The usual euphemisms are ‘both parents’, ‘one or other parent’, ‘a parent’ etc. Scour the internet for mothers and child abuse and the overwhelming number of hits will involve sex abuse which is the minority of female offending.

However, The Child Protection Handbook, does lay it on the line that children in married couple households are safest; children in cohabiting households are a little less safe; and children in single mother households will have a dire time.

American statistics, by contrast, are much more detailed in naming gender, age, and relationship between victim and perpetrator.

American statistics are much more detailed in cohabiting analysis – probably because of the long standing 3 way ethnic splits in their society. Their marital patterns are distinct from Britain’s due in part to legalised nature of cohabitation in some US states and its preference by some ethnic groups.

As a result cohabitation rates in the USA have be consistently reported and in some detail, revealing that at the beginning of the 20th century it was much more likely for blacks to be married then their white counterparts.

Today black women make up the largest portion of SMHs and are the biggest recipients of federal subsidies.

American statistics are far more accessible and useful with helpful comparisons – again homicides area case in point. Look at the lack of detail that NSPCC data and Home Office statistics displayed in the example below (Table 1), for child homicides, i.e. aged less than 16.

Table 1. NSPCC & Home Office data  (child homicides) 
Relationship Number %
Son or daughter 76 (78)
Other family 2 (2)
Friend or acquaintance 5 (5)
Course of employment 1 (1)
Not known 7 7)
No suspect 7 (7)
Total number 98 (100)
Source: Home Office, England & Wales   

Only the relationship to the principal suspect is shown, not the sex and age. Now compare the detailed American equivalent shown below in Table 2 (Murder in Families and NCJRS citation).

American data on deaths and murder in families is, by contrast, far more detailed and it is the duty of the US Dept of Justice to record such matters -not a Dept of Health or similar arms length Department (see NCJ 143498).

“Murder in Families”, US Dept of Justice, NCJ 143498 

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/ascii/mf.txt and http://www.cdc.gov/nchswww/data/nvsr47_9.pdf and http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/Products&Pubs/DatatoAction/pdf/Chlt4.pdf

Table 2  Boys  Boys  Girls  Girls        Total Ratio to Fathers
  1-4 year old 5-14 year old 1-4 year old 5-14Yearold  
Residual 868 938 697 752 3,255 101.7
Other Accidents 835 995 492 458 2,780 86.9
Car Accidents 455 1,188 365 792 2,800 87.5
Congenital Anomalies 325 273 313 184 1,095 34.2
Cancer 246 582 178 446 1,452 45.4
Heart 111 181 106 153 551 17.2
Flu 91 69 77 67 304 9.5
HIV 74 20 73 81 248 7.8
Lung   145 56 114 315 9.8
Septicemia 10 10 36 10 66 2.1
             
Suicide – – 225 – – 77 302 9.4
             
Killed By Other Men 40 59 36 38 173 5.4
Killed By Fathers 7 9 9 7 32 1.0
Killed By Mothers 167 243 161 158 729 22.8
All Causes 3,349 5,003 2,599 3,327 14,278  
Homicide 214 311 206 203 934  

National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS)

http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=143498

Abstract: Survey data compiled from State prosecutor files in 33 large urban counties yielded 2,539 murder cases involving 3,119 defendants and 2,655 victims. Data revealed that 6.5% of murder victims were killed by spouses, 3.5% by parents, 1.9 percent by children, 1.5% by siblings, and 2.6% by other family members. Females committed murder in one-third of the cases. Among black marital partners, wives were just about as likely to kill their husbands as husbands were to kill their wives. Among white victims murdered by spouses, wives were much less likely to be the killers. About 45% of family murder victims were female, compared to 18% of non-family murder victims. When a mother killed her own child, the child was more likely to be a son than a daughter. When a son killed a parent, the victim was about as likely to be the mother as the father. In murders of persons under 12 years of age, parents accounted for 57% of murderers. Eleven percent of all victims aged 60 or older were killed by a son or a daughter. No significant conviction rate differences separated family murder defendants from non-family murder defendants. Convicted family murder defendants were just as likely to receive a prison sentence as convicted non-family murder defendants. Firearms were used to kill 42% of family murder victims, compared to 63% of non-family murder victims. Approximately 74% of murder defendants had prior criminal records. The survey methodology is detailed with respect to sample selection, case availability, estimation procedures, coding of circumstances and victim-killer relationships, response rates, conviction rates, and sentencing. 32 tables.

Index Term(s): Homicide ; Male offenders ; Violent offenders ; Urban area studies ; Murder ; Domestic assault ; Violent women ; Urban criminality ; Female victims ; Black white crime comparisons ; Victims of violence ; Violent men ; Male victims ; Female murderers.

With regards cohabitation rates in the US, in 1970, about 530,000 couples reportedly lived together outside marriage. This number increased to 1.6 million in 1980, climbed to 2.9 million in 1990, and then 4.2 million in 1998 and by 20000 had reached 5.5 million.[3]

In many respects, unmarried cohabitation is beneficial from the standpoint of slightly better stability for children than single mother households (SMHs), and is emphatically less of a drain on the tax-payer than SMHs.

The advantage of cohabiting in the American perspective is that each unmarried couple are free to  define the terms of their relationship without recourse to a template or being bound by marriage laws that can restrict the marriage relationship (pre-nuptial contracts are valid in the US but not in the UK).

When a cohabiting relationship ends the unmarried couple doesn’t need not follow a strict procedure nor wait for a court’s permission to dissolve their arrangement. There is no liability on the state, the government, or the taxpayer.

A fairly recent trend among both heterosexual and homosexual couples who live together is to enter into contracts that provide rights to both parties that are similar to rights enjoyed by married couples. Marriage creates a legal status between two individuals that gives rise to certain rights to both parties (and obligations that cohabiting does not attempt to mimic).

Footnotes:


[1] http://www.mensaid.com/child_abuse/dfes_do_not_collect_any_information_on_child_abuse_perpetrators.htm)

[2] “The Child Protection Handbook”,  p 40 & p 76, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=D8WOofcDqzUC&pg=PA29&lpg=PA29&dq=susan+Creighton+child+abuse&source=bl&ots=EvItXg-EDN&sig=RVxl5YTxpwWFz31bVMx5TCJAp4g&hl=en&ei=laH0SandFuXRjAe0wbjKDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2#PPA40,M1

[3] For US cohabitation see  http://www.enotes.com/everyday-law-encyclopedia/cohabitation

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