Father absent headlines, or my father the gunman

If this were a mother, the term “mother” or “mom” would be in every headline (and would have made national news).

In this case, a husband/father killed 6 people – his wife and her family – and injured 4 – at their son’s birthday party. Some of the articles blame the woman for not divorcing him or filing a restraining order – but, really, folks, a divorce would not have saved her – this is what angered him (and, indeed research indicates separation and divorce are the height of danger for a woman). And, a restraining order? Maybe – if it was enforced by the police.

Another activist brought this page to our attention. Notice out of the 21 articles, only  ONE  refer to him as a husband. Six refer to him simply as a “gunman.” Really? The “gunman” was the father of the little boy celebrating his birthday – and then – witnessing his father kill his mother, her family, and then the “gunman” killed himself.

Gunman =6

Man =1

Husband =1

Father/dad =0

No mention of his relationship to the victims at all =13

Google search

Here are the first three:

Grand Prairie shooting victims leave behind families, dreams

Dallas
Morning News (subscription) – ‎19 hours
ago‎
By From staff reports Trini Do worked two jobs and taught
Sunday school, as well as caring for her two children, friends said. She worked
full time doing accounting and grant management at the University of Texas at
Arlington, where she earned a

Police Believe Gunman Planned Roller Rink
Shootings

NBC
Dallas-Fort Worth – Amanda
Guerra
– ‎40 minutes ago‎
Grand Prairie police said the 35-year-old man who shot and
killed five people at Roller World in Grand Prairie planned his attack. Police
say investigators believe the deadly weekend attack at a Grand Prairie
roller-skating rink was

Family in Shock after Birthday Party
Shooting Rampage

FOX 4
News – Tracy
DeLatte
– ‎2 hours ago‎
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas – The wounded who survived the shooting
rampage at a Grand Prairie skating rink are sharing their eyewitness accounts of
what happened. Hoi Ta and his family moved to North Texas from Vietnam nearly
two decades ago in search of a
Advertisements

“Father absent households” ignores women and blames them at the same time

Here’s a press release regarding the National Fatherhood Initiative. Notice that single Moms (even gay & lesbian couples) running a household and raising children are now absent themselves and relegated to being “father absent”households. I’m quite surprised Obama is supporting all of this. Can you imagine being referred to as “husband absent” or “boyfriend absent” if you were single?

What about “mother absent” households?

“Father absence” is also used as a proxy to say single moms are the the cause of social ills (instead of things like say poverty, gun laws, drugs, etc.) and the reason their sons are incarcerated. Oh, those horrible single women!!

$150 million – at a time of belt tightening? When programs to help women & children are being cut? If the money went directly to single women – wouldn’t that help these families more?!

Saying fathers hold the key to ridding society of social ills – Why? Because patriarchy has worked so well?!?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 17, 2011
National Fatherhood Initiative Applauds Congress’ Extension of
Fatherhood and Marriage Funding
One-Year Extension Needed to Allow Critical Family-Strengthening Work to Continue

(Germantown, MD) — National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) hails the one-year, $150 million
extension of the Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Grants program, as passed in
the Claims Resolution Act of 2010.

The grant program, first passed in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 as part of a 5-year TANF
reauthorization, is set to expire at the end of the current fiscal year. NFI applauds Congress’
foresight in passing a one-year extension of the program ahead of an eventual multi-year
reauthorization of TANF and the corresponding fatherhood and marriage funding.
Allowing the funding to continue uninterrupted is a critical step in ensuring that this important
work continues to be carried out by community-based organizations across the country. Since
2005, hundreds of organizations have been able to enhance their family-strengthening work
through funds from this program, administered by the Administration for Children and
Families’ Office of Family Assistance. Additionally, a national clearinghouse for fatherhood and
a national resource center for marriage were funded, providing support for such programs at the
national level, and media campaigns drawing attention to the importance of these issues.

Roland C. Warren, president of NFI said, “At a time of tight budgets and fiscal constraints, this
work is especially valuable, as it produces significant cost-savings on other government
programs designed to deal with the consequences of family breakdown. NFI’s “100 Billion
Dollar Man” study found that the federal government spends at least $100 billion annually
supporting father-absent homes. The relatively small investment represented by the Healthy
Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Grant Program serves to help prevent family breakdown,
saving billions down the road. Call your members of Congress to express your support for this
important program.”

Congress’ work in this area reflects priorities expressed by President Obama since taking office
in 2009. The President’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships has made
responsible fatherhood one of its four focus areas. The President also formed a Healthy Families
and Responsible Fatherhood Task Force, of which Mr. Warren is a part, to advise the
Administration on how to best approach family-strengthening issues. Finally, the President’s
fiscal year 2012 budget included $150 million in support of these programs.
As the premier fatherhood renewal organization in the country, National Fatherhood Initiative
(NFI) works in every sector and at every level of society to engage fathers in the lives of their
children. NFI is the #1 provider of fatherhood resources in the nation. Since 2004, through
FatherSOURCE, its national resource center, NFI has distributed over 5.7 million resources, and
MEDIA CONTACT
Vincent DiCaro
Vice President of Public Affairs
240-912-1270
vdicaro@fatherhood.org
# # #

Press release: Mothers Rights groups to hold a vigil and press conference for Valentines Day

Mothers of Lost Children

Contact Anne Hart 916-715-5243
 
On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2011 at 11:00 am, Mothers of Lost Children will hold a press conference in front of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Ave SW, Washington DC. They are protesting the enormous expenditure of tax dollars to help ex-prisoners and known abusers connect with their children, and the heartbreak for mothers and children when this funding is misused and misapplied.  A vigil and speakout by mothers and chlild victims will be held at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW on Sunday February 13 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.
During the past two decades, mothers have been losing custody of their children (even nursing infants) in increasing numbers to fathers who are convicted or identified batterers, child molesters, drug addicts, gang-bangers and felons. Family courts force children into the custody of abusive fathers at alarming rates, allowing these men to continue controlling and abusing their victims.  Research shows that 70% of batterers who ask for custody get it. Safe mothers who left the abusers in order to protect their children are frequently labeled “unfriendly” and are inappropriately ordered to supervised visitation or denied all contact with their children.
“The reason, in part,” says Karen Anderson, Executive Director of California Protective Parents Association, “lies in a misguided and dangerous objective of the Fatherhood Initiative to give fathers access to their children regardless of the risk they pose.”  ‘The goal is to have former prisoners paying child support and reconnecting with their children as soon as possible,’ (Washington Post June 21, 2010.) 
“It’s crazy to believe that allowing violent men to care for children is a good idea.  Vulnerable children should not be used as guinea pigs to try to rehabilitate criminals,” says Anderson.     
The National Fatherhood Initiative website states in 15 years it has “ensured that two million more children are living with their fathers”.  The Leadership Council research indicates 58,000 children are placed with abusers every year. These statistics may be connected.  
 
“Thousands of former prisoners and identified abusers have also discovered that if they get custody, they can receive child support instead of paying it.” says Ms. Anderson. “It’s a batterers’ and molesters’ paradise. Federally-funded supervised visitation centers are meant to protect children during visits with potentially dangerous fathers. Instead, family courts order safe mothers to see their children under supervision, which means the children aren’t able to tell their mothers about abuse by their fathers. That way the Fatherhood Initiative goals are met to access even more federal funds.”    
 
During this time of deep fiscal crisis, when children are hungry and parents are penniless, $500,000,000.00 dollars designated to increase marriage and promote ex-prisoners to reconnect with and often harm children is doubly offensive. 
 
Mothers of Lost Children call for a Congressional investigation into the failure of family courts to protect children and potential fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars. 

Here’s the site of the Fatherhood Initiative on the page for incarcerated fathers. I have 3 questions about this:

1) Shouldn’t these fathers have stayed out of prison if they wanted to be in their children’s lives?

2) Why aren’t they concerned that Mothers aren’t connected with their children when they’re incarcerated? Prison shouldn’t be a bar to motherhood

3) Why do they think father absence (read: single mothers) causes children to:

  • Be poor
  • Use drugs
  • Experience educational problems
  • Experience health problems
  • Experience emotional problems
  • Experience behavioral problems
  • Be victims of child abuse
  • Engage in criminal behavior

Read about these myths in the Liz Library

This is what I found under “the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative” – Family Justice Institute: BJA partners with the Family Justice Institute to provide training and technical assistance to agencies that work with offenders and their families on reunification programming when offenders return to the community. Found here: http://fatherhood.hhs.gov/Incarceration/index.shtml

Here’s the information about the grants:

To this end, with support from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Family Assistance, NFI announces availability of 25 awards, each in the amount of $25,000, for local community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and other grassroots fatherhood agencies. Through a competitive bidding process, top applicants will receive funds for the specific purpose of increasing capacity to develop their fatherhood programming, and to improve their financial sustainability by becoming more familiar with—and better qualified to receive—federal or private philanthropic support.

Some examples of fatherhood programs could include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Parenting education programs for new and expecting fathers, teen fathers, fathers in need of general parenting skills, or fathers with special needs children
  2. Programs providing marriage counseling, relationship counseling and/or divorce counseling
  3. Support groups for stay-at-home and/or single fathers
  4. Programs for incarcerated fathers
  5. Programs providing court-mandated fathering skills training
  6. Job skills training and/or job placement programs that include a fatherhood component

Here’s information on abusers seeking custody from the Leadership Council:

Although women are more likely to get custody of their children, this is often because they are more likely to ask for it. When men ask for custody, they often get it. According to a report by the American Psychological Association, an abusive man is more likely than a nonviolent father to seek sole physical custody of his children and may be just as likely (or even more likely) to be awarded custody as the mother (APA, 1996). A report by the American Judges Foundation, reported that 70% of the time an abuser who requests custody is able to convince the court to give it to him.

Father absence

Over at the Justice’s Posterous blog site, they’ve noted the absence of the term “father” in many of the domestic violence and even family court-related articles as a form of media bias – because, on the contrary, they often identify the woman as a mother.

Check out her site here and look for the September 8th entry: Justice’s Posterous

Here are the article she references: Man accused of bringing handgun to child custody hearing and Soldier sentenced to 6 years for incest, sex assault

Check out these too:

Man angered by how wife cooked eggs kills 5, self   (man and wife denotes inequality as it treats her like a possession; husband and wife is preferred)

Lake Havasu man kills 5, then himself  Suspect in custody dispute with mother of children, police say (man vs. mother)

 Man charged with attempted murder in domestic violence case  (he was a husband & father)

 Police arrested 28-year-old James Ray Salazar, II, Aug. 25 for attempted murder (2nd degree), aggravated assault, kidnapping, custodial interference, child abuse and disorderly conduct in connection with a domestic incident.

The right context

Ask yourself this: who commits more child abuse, men or women? If you’re like most folks, you’ll say women. Perhaps it’s been the media that has influenced this perception. Take notice the next time you read an article on child abuse and how each gender can be treated differently. Here’s an article that puts child abuse into context – something that is not often done.

Men are more commonly the perpetrators in abuse cases, while women lead in cases of neglect. Statistics show the most typical abuser profile is the boyfriend of a single mom, 18 to 30 years old and unemployed. If the mother is facing financial difficulties herself, she may have the boyfriend move in to share living expenses — or to have free child care while she works.

The fact that these men have no biological bond with the children, and often no prior parenting experience, makes them ill-prepared to deal with crying jags, potty-training accidents and the battle of wills that can come with feeding very young children.

“If you look at the age curve for victims of shaken-baby syndrome, it often correlates with the crying curve of babies — the amount of time each day that babies spend crying,” said Dr. Mark Kesler, medical director of the state’s child protection team for Orange and Osceola counties. “People don’t understand that babies can cry a certain number of hours each day, and that’s normal.”

It doesn’t take much, Kesler notes, to seriously injure an infant by shaking. The difference in size and strength between adult and child coupled with a baby’s weak neck muscles and disproportionately large head can quickly lead to permanent brain damage or death.
 

The article, Brutal Child Abuse on the Rise, states that child abuse may increase as the economy worsens. 

It also provides resources at the end.

It’s a difficult topic, but it’s written with facts and resources. Well done!

Notice how this article, Lynn Child Abuse Rates Outpacing Most of US, provides some context, but discussion of solutions focuses on who? Single moms, of course. Research does find that single parenthood contributes to a small degree of social problems. However, 25 million single parents in a nation of 300 million are not the cause of society’s social ills, including child abuse. Father absence is actually just a small factor. It makes more sense to look at factors like poverty, drug laws, gang prevention and so on than to focus on single mothers.