Hat Tip to Pete at Landfill Pointe for this topic.
Pope Benedict XVI, celebrating a “World Day of Peace”, greeted the New Year by criticizing policies that undermine the traditional family, saying they eroded one of the most important foundations for peace in the world. He said the traditional family led by a husband and wife instilled values that promote peace, and added it was an “irreplaceable” institution.
The Pontiff, delivering the traditional New Year prayer for peace, appeared to take a swipe at efforts in several countries to grant legal recognition to gay and unwed couples – although he did not single out any policies by name.
“Those who are hostile, even unknowingly, to the institution of the family … make peace fragile for the entire national and international community,” the Pope told crowds gathered in a sunny St Peter’s Square.
Well, okay, let’s see, the Pope must be talking about those families where spousal abuse, child abuse, and elder abuse do not occur. And, lest we forget, physical abuse is many times accompanied by psychological and emotional abuse. What’s the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me?” Psychological and emotional abuse also takes a toll on families.
If the family is such a safe haven as a foundation for peace, why on earth do we have so many domestic violence task forces, domestic violence commissions, centers for non-violence and on and on?
According to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic Violence, approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice gathered the following statistics between 1998 and 2002:
- Of the almost 3.5 million violent crimes committed against family members, 49% of these were crimes against spouses.
- 84% of spouse abuse victims were females, and 86% of victims of dating partner abuse were female.
- Males were 83% of spouse murderers and 75% of dating partner murderers
- 50% of offenders in state prison for spousal abuse had killed their victims. Wives were more likely than husbands to be killed by their spouses: wives were about half of all spouses in the population in 2002, but 81% of all persons killed by their spouse.
Moving on to elder abuse, 90% of elder abuse and neglect incidents are by known perpetrators, usually family members, 2/3rds are adult children or spouses. 42% of murder victims over 60 were killed by their own offspring. Spouses were the perpetrators in 24% of family murders of persons over 60.
And finally, the following are some statistics on child abuse:
- Each week, child protective services (CPS) agencies throughout the United States receive more than 50,000 reports of suspected child abuse or neglect.
- In 2002, 2.6 million reports concerning the welfare of approximately 4.5 million children were made.
- In approximately two-thirds (67 percent) of these cases, the information provided in the report was sufficient to prompt an assessment or investigation. As a result of these investigations, approximately 896,000 children were found to have been victims of abuse or neglect—an average of more than 2,450 children per day.
- More than half (60 percent) of victims experienced neglect, meaning a caretaker failed to provide for the child’s basic needs. Fewer victims experienced physical abuse (nearly 20 percent) or sexual abuse (10 percent), though these cases are typically more likely to be publicized. The smallest number (7 percent) were found to be victims of emotional abuse, which includes criticizing, rejecting, or refusing to nurture a child.
- An average of nearly four children die every day as a result of child abuse or neglect (1,400 in 2002).
In the mid-1800s, some state courts legally allowed husbands to beat their wives. See Joyner v. Joyner, 59 N.C. 322 (1862); State v. Black, 60 N.C. 262 (1864); State v. Rhodes, 61 N.C. 453 (1868). The cases provide explicit reasons upon which the courts absolved the husbands of wrongdoing in hitting or beating their wives. The underlying philosophy? The husband is the head of the family, the wife is to submit to the husband, and, if she gets out of line, she is to be punished because she is just like a child. That punishment usually took the form of hitting, striking, or beating.
Perhaps when the Pope is pontificating, he might read up on the statistics of abuse and violence surrounding the family unit. The Pope talks about an ideal which may exist for some families; statistics gives us reality in black and white.