Child Abuse, Abortion
& Parental Alienation

Women are generally as likely, or more likely than men to commit abuse involving children

Just because both men & women are guilty of violence & abuse, doesn't mean gender issues should be ignored in DV research; but the aim should be to understand what's happening, and then why, rather than to blame one gender or the other.  For example, the attached analysis by the One-in-Three campaign group (submitted to the 2017 Federal Inquiry on family law & DV) indicates little difference in the rates of abuse of/by men or women when the data is focussed on recently separated parents, which suggests parenting disputes are an underlying source of much conflict.  Or in other words, women are more likely to be abusive if children are involved.

Research in the UK & USA also indicates that children are more than twice as likely to be abused &/or killed by their mothers than fathers (see also Figure 4-3 here, which shows parents were responsible for 75% of an estimated 1,770 children that died from abuse and neglect in the USA during 2009, 80% of whom were aged under 4).  New Zealand mothers also kill more children than any other group in society.

Australia has less research on filicide, and relatively small numbers (apparently about 4-5 x lower per capita than the USA), which makes annual statistics more variable (e.g. if there is even just one really awful case, like a mother killing 8 children).  Data for the 12 years to 2012 shows an average of 20 p.a. incidents in which 284 victims were killed by their parent(s), with 274 of these being under 18 (23 children p.a., but with significant annual variations), and roughly 50/50 male/female perpetrators, although of the 215 (76% of) victims killed by a custodial parent, 46% were by the mother and 29% by the father (whereas all but one of the victims of a non-custodial parent were killed by their father and all victims of step-parents were killed by a step-father).

However, because Australian filicide research is poor, some cases may be classified as accidents or not known at all, so actual filicide numbers may be higherResearch to 2002 shows filicide is greatest in babies (declining rapidly to age 4) and also indicates significant causes or triggers are disputes & breakup between parents, along with mental illness.  It appears that biological mothers are much more likely to kill their children than biological fathers, but killings by step-Dads balance out the numbers (so arguably, the greatest risk for children comes from separated Mums with a step-Dad boyfriend, although of course it depends on each case, as non-custodial fathers are statistically more dangerous than non-custodial mothers).  Men seem more likely to kill through violent rage whereas women, who are more likely to have a diagnosed mental illness, most commonly kill their children by asphyxiation.  Even when killings seem equally brutal and horrific, the media seem to show a much more forgiving attitude to killer mothers than they do to fathers.

Overall, these statistical variations allow reason to question whether there are innate gender differences in the propensity for filicide, but typical parenting roles might be an influencing factor, so one hypothesis to explore would be whether the stress of all-day parenting contributes to these cases, and whether changes in mother/father roles affect this.  The vastly higher rates of filicide in the USA compared to Australia point to material societal contributing factors, which may include poverty.

However, for less severe cases of child abuse and neglect, 1996 Australian research showed that mothers were nearly twice as likely as fathers to be responsible, and that, “more substantiated emotional and sexual abuse and neglect cases involved children from female single parent families than from other types of families”.  In response, feminists stopped the dissection of public data by the perpetrator's gender (with the galling, hypocritical excuse that it's “not helpful to demonise any perpetrator group").  However, similar patterns were revealed in 2008 WA data for neglect & abuse (including emotional and psychological abuse).

One relatively rare form of child abuse that's most often (85% of the time) perpetrated by a mother is Munchausen-by-proxy (or "Fabricated/Induced Illness by Carers", now called "Factitious disorder imposed on another"), which involves the exaggeration, fabrication or causing of illnesses or symptoms in a child (as portrayed in The Sixth Sense movie).  Perpetrators are suffering from a psychiatric condition (sometimes brought on by their own abuse as a child), and typically have medical knowledge, which they exploit as they "Doctor shop/surf", in search of attention.  According to Patricia Pearson, author of "When She Was Bad" (about how and why women get away with murder), there are roughly 500 new cases of this kind each year in the US, of which 10-30% result in death – with some of these deaths wrongly diagnosed as sudden infant death syndrome ("SIDS", rates for which vary widely by nation and are highest for male and non-white babies, whilst notably being four times more common for children of lone mothers than for those of married mothers).  Assuming similar rates per capita, these unidentified killings could increase the Australian filicide rate by some 50%.

Genital mutilation of girls is rightly regarded as child abuse by most people, yet not for boys, where circumcision is inflicted on over half of American boys (having fallen from nearly 80% in the 1990s) — pushed by mothers who  think it’s ‘disgusting and dirty’ not to circumcise their sons (largely due to a still-lingering culture based on puritanical Victorian beliefs) killing over 100 infants p.a. (more than S.I.D.S. see The Red Pill statistics chart at the bottom of this page) and causing trauma, permanent injury, ongoing discomfort & loss of sexual function for many more, even though the body (obviously) has foreskin for many reasons and there is often little or no medical justification  for the procedure  in modern society (even when it is done in the UK, where less than 9% of boys were circumcised in 2022, mostly because they are Muslim or Jewish, with just 2% of men circumcised for "medical reasons", but over half of these being deemed unnecessary).  “Religion” is never a good excuse for continuing with outdated practices (which in this case obviously originated in ancient lands where water for washing was scarce and health care non existent).

Child sex abuse does appear to be overwhelmingly committed by men, but it seems women are culprits more often than the 5% of cases that is commonly believed (in the order of 20% of all cases in the USA  with just as much harm as sex abuse by men and similarly or more in the UK), partly because of under-reporting (though it's increasing) in a culture that often seems to almost celebrate (or be more lenient about) a boy "having an affair" with an older woman (i.e. being raped), and also because it is denied by a feminist doctrine that all abuse is driven by male power.  Actually, reported cases of female perpetrators are said to represent the "tip of the iceberg" and some research indicates women commit the majority of sexual abuse in juvenile detention centres (& also more so in adult prisons than men) — where more than nine in ten juveniles who reported staff sexual victimization were abused by a woman.  Also, UK police reports show that the vast majority of "revenge porn" bullying is perpetrated by girls and young women against other females.

Whenever the subject involves harm to children caused by women, the political debate seems to become intense and extremely polarised, with the feminist side often even denying the existence of abuse.  Information and commentary on two especially contentious issues follows:

The politics of abortion

I'm discussing abortion here, not to equate it to child abuse (although some may), but rather to highlight how, as with DV, media & political commentary seems to lack the nuance or balanced views held by the majority of the population.  Also abortion is often raised as an issue of concern by MRAs, quite understandably for prospective fathers (it can be so traumatic for some men that it leads to suicide), although ultimately I can't see how men could ever reasonably be allowed to veto decisions determined by a pregnant woman and doctors according to law.  Some MRAs, and perhaps surprisingly also, the strident, sweary feminist writer/comedian Catherine Deveny, argue that if women are to make all these decisions then men should in turn have the right to a "financial abortion" — relinquishing all parental responsibilities (like Child Support payments) as well as entitlements.  But despite the problems with current Child Support systems (see here), I can't say I'm comfortable with this proposition, because it's not fair on the child.  Yet whilst abortion debate is often pitched as conservative men denying women their rights, UK polls consistently show that women are about 20% more likely than men to support tightening abortion restrictions (43 to 59% of women vs 24 to 35% of men).

As for what abortion law should be, clearly the majority of opinion these days would not equate all acts of abortion to murder, but rather would accept legal abortion in certain limited circumstances (as is reflected in most countries' laws), so it's a sign of the false black-or-white divisions in society that zealots and the media like to create when debate about abortion is reduced to the extremes of "pro-choice" vs "pro-life".  Similarly unhelpful for reaching public consensus are campaigns to "decriminalise" abortion (as it was still a criminal offence in NSW, although allowed as a result of legal precedent) without specifying under what circumstances it would or would not be allowed, and what, if any, non-criminal penalties would apply, and for whom (possibly only for Doctors), or else if there are no penalties at all, simply assuming people will only conduct late abortions for justifiably strong medical reasons, in which case there's no point having laws at all ! (We don't generally have laws to control the vast majority of people who will do the "right" thing anyway; they're to protect people in the rare cases where this may not otherwise happen.)  The typical legal approach is to allow abortion "on demand" up to a certain number of weeks, and then after that subject to certain conditions, but one could have further thresholds with increasingly tight restrictions, for example, for mental health reasons, for cases of severe child abnormality, and finally if there's a significantly increased risk to the mother's life.

I certainly don't have the medical expertise, let alone moral authority to judge when an embryo or fetus should be considered to have developed into a baby human and where the legal line(s) should be drawn in this difficult area, but I do find it a strange view of "equality" when extremely slack abortion laws decriminalise it in all circumstances and effectively allow a woman to get "abortion on demand" literally minutes before birth if she can pay just one non-doctor "health care practitioner" (e.g. a physician assistant, midwife or nurse) to agree to kill the unborn child (without the father's agreement, of course) on the basis it will "protect her health" (including "mental health", which is so broad a criteria as to practically amount to as-wanted), and moreover, despite the very real scope for abuse (e.g. coercion of pregnant women into unwanted abortions), the passing of these laws in New York gets jubilantly celebrated with cheers & pink neon lights.  This is only one small step away from the "after birth abortions" that have been advocated by some, on the basis that the morality of killing a new-born infant is comparable to killing a foetus.  Interestingly though, New York's actions seem to have triggered a backlash in public & political opinion, with Democrats identifying as "pro-life" increasing from 20% to 34% over just one month, and changes in law at the opposite extreme being pushed in other States, further enabled by the Supreme Court's overturning of "Roe v Wade".

Yet these extremes of public debate seem to defy majority opinion, with a January 2019 poll indicating that despite 55% of Americans identifying as "pro choice", 75% of Americans still support some kind of restrictions (including 60% of Democrats and 60% of those who identify as "pro choice"), with 60% opposed to abortion after 20 weeks except to save the life of the mother, and more broadly, over 80% believing that it should be possible to have laws that protect the health & well-being of both the mother and unborn child (i.e. in line with the law & practice in most Western countries).  But the extreme reactions continue, with Illinois now going further than New York by "effectively eliminating any regulations on abortion" — allowing them up to the moment of birth and then beyond via "partial-birth" abortions, "for any reason".  A key problem is that neither side of this extreme debate (worsened by two-party political systems) really wants a middle solution, so even incremental changes proposed may actually be disingenuous attempts to move outcomes towards the desired extreme.  For example, attempts to regulate the very small number of late-term abortions, which could provide important protections for a rare minority of inappropriate cases (e.g. coercion combined with immoral doctors), are understandably seen as an attempt to control the greater number of legitimate abortions by ordinary well-intentioned women.

A major difficulty with laws such as these is that it is very hard to specify clear rules that will also be flexible enough to cater for the many different situations that occur in reality.  So although it is highly unusual (to say the least) to effectively delegate interpretation of laws about life & death to anyone other than a judge, in this case — and especially given a currently far-from-perfect justice system, where judges aren't exactly the font of all moral wisdom — the recently-adopted NSW laws providing oversight of late-term abortion decisions by a hospital advisory committee (revised from the original proposals) seems like a reasonable approach (subject to appropriate detailed regulation).

In practice, abortion rates in the USA have halved since their peak around 1980, to about 22% of pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) or around 15 per 1,000 women aged 15-44, with about 90% occurring in the first 12 weeks and 95% conducted without any health reason.  Abortion rates are very similar in Britain, France and Australia.  If you can stomach it, you can see & hear about the reality of abortion here & here — confronting material of the kind that caused former abortion services director Abby Johnson to switch to being a "pro life" campaigner, as documented in her books & the 2019 film, "Unplanned".  Or if you want to get exasperated by the unnecessarily divisive debate driven by the extremes of American politics, watch "Reversing Roe" on Netflix.

But in Australia, whatever the community may collectively decide, it seems obvious that along with other basic human rights, access to abortion should be the same wherever you live, both in law and in practice.

Parental alienation

A surprisingly common type of abuse ("responsible for around 80% of the most intransigent cases that come before the family courts") is "parental alienation", when the mother (commonly) subversively (or openly) obstructs the father's access to their child, &/or brainwashes the child into "not wanting" to see their father (the "targeted", alienated parent).  This manipulation is quite readily achieved because having had one (alienated) parent removed from their life, a dependent child will do almost anything to please their remaining (alienating) parent (see this TEDx talk by Dr Jennifer Harman and this video describing typical alienating tactics).

The alienating parent may influence the child in various ways including by overtly denigrating the other parent &/or more insidiously influencing the child against the other parent, whilst they pretend that they're trying to encourage contact.  Here's a short video of some of the statements an alienating parent might use.  Professional psychologists in the field indicate false or unsubstantiated allegations of abuse, neglect or domestic violence are often made against alienated parents in order to "justify" not enabling them to have contact with their child and to gain leverage in court.

Symptomatic behaviours of an alienated child typically lack grounding in reality and are quite different from a child that is genuinely being abused by the accused parent (in fact abused children typically remain attached to an abusive parent).  If pressed to explain, the child will commonly offer frivolous & untrue reasons for "not wanting" to see the targeted parent, which have clearly been pushed onto them by the alienating parent and should not be accepted at face value (& yet often are) — e.g. not liking the meals prepared for them.

Sometimes the controlled child will give a reason that is obviously a statement of the alienating parent's financial interests and/or may fabricate a story of sexual abuse and even come to believe false stories of their abuse by the targeted (alienated) parent.

Often through various tactics and for various reasons – the alienation will extend to wider family, including grandparents (affecting an estimated 2 million grandparents in the UK, with 4-in-10 grandparents losing contact with their grandchildren when parents separate).

Although some alienation may result from partly unintended "emotional infection" of children during the trauma of separation (especially from alienators with mental illness), it's clear that many perpetrators just don't want their child to have a relationship with the other parent and/or want to deliberately hurt the alienated parent (e.g. for revenge over a breakup, as in this case study) and/or financially gain from sole custody through divorce settlements & Child Support (e.g. see the examples in this PA discussion on Jada Pinkett-Smith's "Red Table Talk" and more about the courts & Child Support systems on my next page).

An alienating parent often shows either narcissistic or borderline tendencies and evidence from US courts indicates the majority (75%) of perpetrators are mothers (or 2:1), although other research suggests men may be just as prone.

As this UK survey indicates and as Alec Baldwin observes, any greater perpetration by women may be explained not so much by innate gender differences but rather because women are more likely to have primary custody and this provides greater opportunity to manipulate and alienate the child (about 80% of alienators are custodial parents).

However, women tend to adopt more indirect & covert alienating tactics (e.g. see here or here or here), which can be harder to identify & prove (or then prevent).

Feminist denial of parental alienation

Parental alienation (PA) was first mentioned in medical journals in 1949 but subsequently popularised in 1984/5 by Dr Richard Gardner as a "syndrome" characterising the psychological state of a child so alienated that they internalise the manipulation and vilify the target parent themselves (a state termed "splitting").  Related research demonstrates that children and even adults can be readily manipulated into changing their perspective of reality, believing fabricated memories and acting against their normal judgement in order to comply with social/parental pressure.

After much debate & accumulated research producing an abundance of evidence for its existence, PA was finally recognised in the "ICD" as a mental health issue in May 2019 by the World Health Organisation (WHO), only to be dropped a year later in response to continued resistance from feminists, such as the three toxic Jesses: Hill (ideological rather than "investigative" Australian journalist, who claims PA is a "bogus theory" and excuses & supports those advocating violence against men), Phillips (anti-male UK MP who will fight the legal recognition of PA "with every fibre of her being") & Taylor, who partially admits PA can happen but – though she's not qualified to do sorejects the recognition of it or other widely-accepted psychological disorders (e.g. in the USA's "DSM") because they are "used against women" (even whilst she and other feminists defend the blatantly abusive Amber Heard), and also rejects the justice systems that could tackle PA, because they were created by men.

These feminists, along with many others in the UK influencing government policy and mainstream media, like Louise Tickle (enabled by a grossly biased Channel-4 "Dispatches") and SHERA's Elizabeth Dalgarno, Adrienne Barnett, Natalie Page & Emma Katz, with the support of massive government funding through Women's Aid & Refuge, deny female-perpetrated abuse and blatantly lie, gaslight, insult & bully PA victims (including women) by dismissing PA as "junk science" and a "debunked theory" (not true) that's supposedly been "discredited" as claimed in a false-referencing, deliberate misrepresentation of PA published in The Guardian by the strident & far-from-impartial, and extreme, self-proclaimed "glam feminist" barrister, Dr. Charlotte Proudman (who fights for "liberation, not equality").

Consistently, the PA-denying feminists argue their ideological position not with robust evidence, or any expertise in child-parent attachment psychology, but by misrepresenting the messenger (see also here) especially with false personal attacks on the deceased Gardner (even as they label their critics "trolls" or bullies) – whilst simply dismissing the widespread evidence of PA with a strawman by claiming it's "only a means for abusive fathers to gain access to children" (particularly through the family court, e.g. see here), or by defending alienation tactics by normalising them such as involving children in adult matters like payment of child support (often the incentive for alienation), and excusing badmouthing of the targeted, alienated parent.

Further critics of PA, including tribal gangs on social media, then simply repeat the misinformation & lies without checking it.

The latest line of attack is to call it a "pseudoscience" and "belief system with no agreed definition", and to complain of court experts lacking expertise in PA (rightly so), yet they oppose recognising PA in law & psychology practice (like the ICD & DSM), which would provide a definition and basis for determining expertise.

Most disgraceful has been the denial of PA by those paid to support abuse victims and children particularly:

The disgusting UK campaign against recognising PA continued in 2023 from The Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales, Nicole Jacobs, with the help of SHERA and the BBC, as Jacobs claimed "so-called parental alienation" was used by fathers to "deflect from their own abusive behaviour" (she seems to have no qualms about "victim-blaming" for the large numbers of genuine PA cases).  It seems the feminists also then had a strong influence on the UK Family Justice Council's August 2023 "Draft Guidance on Responding to allegations of alienating behaviour" that says, "The behaviour of a child is not evidence of the behaviour of an adult, so the behaviour of a child should not be used to evidence adult behaviours" — which presents an almost impossible evidence burden for most victims, due to the insidious, covert, influencing actions of the alienator that occur hidden behind their closed doors.

The PA deniers also had further success with the EU Parliament in Oct. 2021 and "Kaden's Law" passed by the US President in March 2022.  The validity of PA continues to be attacked by feminists' lobbying and at the UN – who treat it as a "concept" for abusing women and their children, and have "directed States Parties to abolish the use of the concept of parental alienation in court cases".  This preconceived position was reaffirmed in the report by Reem Alsalem, the UNSRVAW (UN Special Raporteur on Violence Against Women) to be voted on by the UN Human Rights Council's 53rd session in June 2023, using the same old false accusations against Gardner and labelling of PA as a "pseudo-concept", whilst ignoring all other evidence including current research experts and a thousand submissions which were not released publicly as had been promised (see also here & here).  Reem then made the disingenuous offer to consider the post-separation abuse that is PA under a different label, even though she & her feminist colleagues are on record making it clear they will fight against recognising PA whatever its label, as she opposes any formal definition—claiming "it's not based on good science"—and nods and smiles to Joan Meier comparing their campaigning to a game of "whack-a-mole", where every time they kill off the concept it comes back with a different nameIt only took a day for her to shift the goalposts again and continue to deny the validity of PA, whatever the label.  Thankfully it seems the UNHRC was persuaded by more objective voices to at least defer the proposal, which even ChatGPT identified as clearly biased.

Feminist denial of PA is strong because it fundamentally threatens their narrative that all DV is driven by patriarchal control motives, and by extension, threatens their DV industry funding.  These self-interested motives were even openly admitted by a feminist in the Welsh Parliament when asked to investigate claims of proven child abuse, saying, “You’ve got to stop taking up these cases. The Women’s Movement has come too far for it to be damaged by individual cases of child abuse”.

But while influential feminists like Adrienne Barnett and Joan Meier deny the scientific evidence and use biased studies to claim allegations of parental alienation are most often false & misused by male abusers (on the basis of believing all women and rejecting the validity of court decisions made against them), more robust analysis by Jennifer Harman indicates such cases are very rare (work that led to her receiving a national award for being "a model of objective, scientifically rigorous research").   With nearly 40% of the Parental Alienation literature having been published since 2016, researchers in 2022 say there is now a "scientifically trustworthy knowledge base", yet small but vocal, unprofessional critics of PA continue to question its validity in unreviewed online articles or "low-tier journals", based on "conjecture, unsupported opinion and anecdotes", and without reference to any appropriate methodology or peer-reviewed study.

Parental alienation and its denial is abuse, which leads to further conflict

For victims of PA, feminist denial of their reality becomes part of the abuse — telling them that it simply isn't happening.  It also means that many prospective victims are not aware of PA, and hence are at greater risk of not knowing how to recognise and respond to it.  This is victim-blaming & gaslighting on a societal scale.  Whilst there is legitimate argument from experts like Dr Craig Childress as to whether PA should be recognised as a specific "syndrome" or psychological disorder, there is no question that parental alienation really occursand so commonly that it needs to be fully recognised by professionals and the law, because the head of CAFCASS has said PA is as big a public health issue as drinking & smoking (perpetuated by propaganda as scandalous as that of tobacco firms).

Not surprisingly, the conflict involved in PA also has a material impact on DV between adults.  In fact, just one year after Kentucky passed an equal parenting law (which took effect in July 2018), domestic violence reduced by 4% (and went on to fall 50%, although it seems there was a previous downward trend, which had possibly stalled).  Even more striking, after laws for equal parenting were passed in five Spanish regions between 2009 and 2011, the incidence of joint custody increased fourfold to almost 40% in just five years, which appears to have reduced abuse of women by about 50% and female homicides by 8%, as well as reducing risky teenage behaviour (especially by boys) and increasing employment of mothers relative to fathers.  Despite these improvements, police reports of DV increased by up to 5%, but with a significantly higher proportion of these reports ending in dismissals or non-guilty court decisions which may be attributed to false allegations or "strategic behavior by mothers who want to retain sole custody of their children" (see next page).

Whilst PA is devastating for alienated parents, ultimately of course the greatest abuse arising from PA is the manipulation & control of the innocent child, making it a severe form of DV – "on par with physical and sexual abuse" – that can cause them to lose trust in their own memories & emotions, family connections, sense of identity and confidence, and deeply damage them for life through "self hatred" and a range of pathological behaviors driven by deep psychological scars that contribute to many difficulties as adults with mental health, relationships and repeated intergenerational trauma (see also here)Alienated children are also much more likely to reject their own children in adulthood.

Parental alienation is widespread

Sadly, child custody battles after separation and PA are all too common.  In "Children Held Hostage", first published in 1991, Clawar & Rivlin reported on their groundbreaking 10-year study of 700 cases of divorced US couples, which found that parents were brainwashing children in 86% of the cases they looked at, with this occurring once or more than once a day in 45% of cases (consistent with other research in 1988).  The 2nd edition of 2013/2014 covers over 1000 cases and tackles the problem of proving this alienation and getting a court to accept it and order effective solutions (see next page).

Subsequent research over 1993 to 2008 indicated PA was prevalent in about 25% of custody disputes (with such disputes occurring for 10% of divorced US couples, with whom 10% of US children live), and further US research in 2010 indicated alienation to be present in 11%-15% of divorces involving children (refer also here), whilst other studies suggested it affects around 1% of all children.

In the UK in 2019 it was found that a shocking 4-in-10 divorces involving children (50,000 cases p.a.) have to go to court to settle their disputes (with 42% of court cases involving PA), and in a  survey of young Scottish people, a quarter of the respondents stated they “had to tell one parent they did not love them”, in order to keep their other parent happy.  As a consequence, 4-in-10 UK Dads are unable to see their kids (under age 18) on Fathers' Day and about 1-in-5 Dads have experienced challenges accessing their children or completely lost contact with them.

Further UK research in 2023, led by Professor Ben Hine, showed that these findings were no exaggeration, as its national survey of over 1,000 separated and/or divorced parents revealed that whilst 39% said they had experienced parental alienation, this actually understated the true picture because almost 60% had experienced specific examples of alienating behaviours (i.e. many people are in denial of the fact that they've experienced abuse).  The survey also found that many victims were more likely to suffer from domestic violence, PTSD symptoms, depression and suicidal thoughts.

Read, see & hear here & here the misery & heartbreak inflicted on fathers and millions of children growing up without their Dad, largely thanks to ignorant and self-serving lawyers and injustice in secretive & slow, make-work family courts (see next page), compounded by a dishonest & corrupt feminist DV-industry that denies the existence of parental alienation.

For many alienated parents subjected to the coercive & controlling abuse of PA, the experience is one of never-ending grieving for their children that are still aliveIn one Australian study, 23% of alienated parents reported attempting suicide (see further references here and, as an example, this case, as well as more on suicide here).

In Australia, the Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) estimates there were over 1.1 million single-parent households in 2016, with ABS 2012-13 survey data showing over a quarter (28%) of children of separated parents seeing their non-resident parent (usually Dad) less than once a year (or never) and a further 16% still only seeing them once every 3-12 months — so nearly half (44%) see their non-resident parent no more than 4 times a year, whilst 51% also have no nights with them.  (NB. AIFS also report a different survey showing 39% of children spending 13% or less of their time with their fathers, but only 3% spending this little time with their mothers).   As bonds are weakened, almost a third eventually never see their father againOnly around 1 in 5 separated parents substantially share care of their children – where the father has the children with them for between 35-65% of the time – and only 5% of fathers have their children for more than that ("most, or all of the time"), compared to 75% of mothers (with 27% being cases of sole custody).

Research in 2019 found that over 30% of parents in the USA & Canada feel they are being alienated from a child by the other parent, and about half of parents who have been alienated from their child have considered committing suicide within the last yearAnother study estimated 22 million US adult victims of alienation (almost half of them severely), with nearly 4 million children or 1.3% of all US children moderately or severely alienated (a quarter of children of separated parents).  Children in the US can even be given up for adoption without the father knowing.

Nearly half (44%) of all US children now live in a single-parent household: fifteen million, or 1-in-3, without a father (triple the 11% rate of 1960), and nearly 5 million (11%) without a mother.  In some areas only 1-in-10 children live with both parents.  Poverty and culture are major driving factors, with black communities especially afflicted, resulting in nearly 5 million black children or 54% living without their father (vs 33% US-average).  In all but 11 states, "most" black children do not live with both parents, while in every state, 7-in-10 white children do.  Single mothers in the US have an average income of $24,000, compared to $80,000 for married couples with children, and only 12% of black families below the poverty line have two parents present, compared with 32% of poor white families and a 56% US average (with 41% for impoverished Hispanic families).

Kids, and society need Dads

The increasing number of fatherless homes created by divorce without shared parenting is also creating "The Boy Crisis" that Dr Warren Farrell writes about, with disastrous consequences for society, as indicated by the statistics here & here (& in the infographics on this page and here) and also through links to mass shootings and even ISIS terrorism (as he discusses in this video & also mentions in this interview, along with an amazing story about his influence on John Lennon).  Similar patterns of crime & abuse amongst young, Dad-deprived males are seen in the UK and continental Europe.  Of the more than 1,000 people who were arrested in the UK's Tottenham riots of 2011, 85% had grown up without a father.

These patterns are not limited to Anglo countries — in Sweden, Iceland and France, single mothers now outnumber those with a partner.

Whilst of course some people may become single parents through little choice, and may do a better job than some couples, statistically, there is very high correlation between single parenting and poor outcomes for children, especially boysMoreover, the presence of the biological father cannot easily be replaced by another father figureKids without Dads are more likely to become anxious, insecure, emotionally closed-off, hostile & aggressive.  Conversely, fathers provide a range of positive benefits for babies & children (such as better emotional regulation, greater empathy and improved self-esteem & health), as well as for themselves, and this article even provides biological evidence that it is devoted fathers and especially their emphasis on active, rough & more risky play that makes humans unique (complementing the more nurturing & protective style of mothering).  

Fathers are found to be even more important than mothers for children over 2 years of age, particularly for the child's cognitive & social development, with their influence being strongly driven by biology especially a permanent drop in testosterone experienced by new fathers, which affects brain activity and behaviours and sometimes contributes to health problems such as post-natal depression (affecting about 10% of fathers vs 10-20% of mothers).  The hormonal changes triggered by men's proximity to children and involvement in their upbringing also encourage broader caring behaviours by fathers towards the general community, probably including the cooperative, "collective provisioning" hunter role that was so critical to human developmentFor kids at primary school (aged 5-7), fathers are also found to have “a unique and important" and lasting effect on children’s educational outcomes (especially maths), whilst mothers had more of an impact on emotional and social behaviours.

This important role of fathers isn't so surprising as it makes sense from an evolutionary perspective because what is most unique about humans is their large brain, which requires babies to be born "prematurely" in a helpless state compared to other animals — before their big-brain filled head gets too big to fit through the mother's pelvis — but this left early-human mothers vulnerable with a helpless baby and hence highly dependent on a man to protect them and help them by going out hunting for food (society might be very different if Australian women had evolved pouches instead!).  This support also enables women to have more children – more closely spaced – than other apes.  In turn, this greater need for a man in their life may explain entrenched courting habits, such as women making most effort to look attractive to as many prospective mates as possible – so they can choose the one that cares for them most – in contrast to most animals where the male has the most stunning plumage because the female is only interested in his good genes.

So Kids need Dads as well as Mums (as Finland recognises), and in court custody disputes after family separations (see next page), equal parenting should be the default (see also here, here & here), as is now the case in Arizona after a long campaign backed by decades of research showing the benefits to and support from children.  This is even so with “high-conflict” parental relationships and including overnight time for infants & toddlers (see also here) contrary to a controversial & highly-influential but heavily-disputed 2007 Australian study by Jennifer McIntosh that has been discouraging this since 2010, but has since been discredited with high confidence.  McIntosh's views were championed by Helen Rhoades, who was given another chance to attack shared parenting through leading the 2017-19 ALRC Family Law Inquiry.  Yet despite the opposition from feminists (see also here), default equal parenting is not only best for children & their fathers, it also reduces unnecessary legal conflict (freeing up courts for other important cases such as DV against women) and is even better for most single Mums, although if you believe the tabloids (which you shouldn't, in general), it may bring greater emotional challenges for more-needy & self-centred mothers.

A number of experts talk about parental alienation (PA) in this video, and further expert information can be found at the following links:

It's Time to put Kids First!

NEXT: Injustice in the Family Courts & "Child-Support" agencies