Posts Tagged ‘Child Protective Services’

End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation

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We know that there are definitional biases and gender discrepancies when it comes to recognizing,and diagnosing child abuse. But emerging research and cohort studies are lifting a twenty year embargo against discussing gender and race in re-examining both gender of perpetrators, and redefining ‘what is sexual abuse.’

For instance, it is common to examine girls for every range of possibility of sexual abuse, but no special procedures that differentiate sexual abuse of boys that was perpetrated by specifically women– like saliva analysis, or  bruising caused by objects, or a child’s exposure to other forms of female behavior that would qualify as sexual abuse.

And boys are less likely to be asked if women, girls, mothers, aunts, and/or female caretakers physically or sexually abused them.

It is also certain more often than not, that any boy who has been sexually abused by a female is less likely to self-report that fact, and by inference of all data, it is  more likely that any hospital visit will have a female caretaker present, which can intimidate self reporting of sexual and physical abuse.

It is well known that abuse victims cannot and will not expose their abuser if the abuser is standing next to them. And most abusers of children have primary custodial control of the child, meaning the child is wholly stifled at knowing how to express the abuse they have endured.

But some are asking another question: does race get in the way of boys reporting their sexual abuse at large, and specifically their sexual abuse by women? I think it does, and I am not alone–anymore..

“Child maltreatment is a significant problem within US society, and minority children have higher rates of substantiated maltreatment than do white children. However, it is unclear whether minority children are abused more frequently than whites or whether their cases are more likely to be reported. OBJECTIVES: To determine whether there are racial differences in the evaluation and Child Protective Services (CPS) reporting of young children hospitalized for fractures.”

While it is likely that historic institutionalized racism is a factor that can explain higher diagnostic success of detecting abuse in black children, it is also a possibility that observer bias ( nurses, doctors, emergency room personell) gets in the way, because white women are seldom if ever suspects–ever–in crime.

Other minority groups have their own profile issues to contend with, but beyond the biased definitional basis for ‘what is abuse,’ beyond the stereotype of male, race is a factor.

It’s not necessarily that black people abuse their children at any higher rates than white people, but rather that suspects, and suspicions of child abuse perpetrated by white people are often downplayed because of racial profiling. Whites are always “less suspect”–and white women in particular–who are the primary caretakers of children–are almost never suspected of any crimes, much less child abuse.

Yet men of all races are constantly primary suspects. They even have a gendered epithet that applies to this profile: the boogieMAN.

I suspect that it’s time to re-visit the race and child abuse question, and redefine ‘what is a suspect,’ for the sake of the children, and the future.

Note to self: put this on the white female privilege checklist.