Family Matters

According to a Wisconsin Bill, Single Moms Are a Child Abuse Threat

Are single moms more apt to hurt their children? Two Republican legislators believe they are and have introduced legislation to raise awareness of the threat.

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As if it weren’t hard enough already to be a single mom — or dad — a new bill in Wisconsin is associating single parenthood with child abuse.

Senate Bill 507 is sponsored by State Sen. Glenn Grothman and State Rep. Donald Pridemore, both Republicans. It takes the state-funded Child Abuse Prevention Board to task for not railing against single parenthood. Grothman described to Fox 6 Now what he says is a direct association between abused kids and parents who aren’t married. “A child is 20 times more likely to be sexually abused if they are raised by say, a mother and a boyfriend, than their mother and father,” Grothman said.

According to the language of the bill, its aim is to promote “public awareness of the problems of child abuse and neglect. In promoting those campaigns and materials, the [child abuse prevention] board shall emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.”

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The bill has outraged single parents everywhere, including in Wisconsin, where they make up a third of all parents. One of those parents, Lena Taylor, just happens to be a Democratic state senator — and a single mom. She told Fox 6:

“I would say my life speaks against what the senator has stated,” Democratic State Senator Lena Taylor of Milwaukee — who is a single mother, said. Taylor says this is the latest in a line of Republican-backed bills that are hostile toward women.“Is this their style, yes — to single out some group and somehow or another criminalize them — like they criminalized doctors for legal procedures?” Taylor said. “Do I agree with it? I don’t. Will I fight it? I will. But do they have the votes and is it possible it will pass? Yes.”

The legislation is just one more example of states seeking to erode women’s rights and credibility — everything from laws that all but mandate invasive vaginal ultrasounds prior to abortions and bills that lift insurance coverage for contraception. This latest knock against the single mother feels even more personal.

“How dare you! How dare you broad brush single parents as contributing to child abuse and neglect?” exclaimed attorney Lisa Bloom, a single mother of two and a foster mom, according to a CNN transcript of a recent discussion on Dr. Drew Pinsky’s HLN show.

More than a quarter of U.S. children younger than 21 live with just one parent, according to U.S. Census data released in 2009. Single moms outnumber single dads 5 to 1, according to Pinsky, who began his show like this:

What do Alicia Keyes, Adrian Grenier and President Barack Obama have in common? They were raised by single parents. We all know an amazing single mom who works her butt off and we do’t know how she does it. That’s why a bill in Wisconsin legislature had a lot of people angry.

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On, a blogger identified as Julia — a single mom and dental resident — denounced the bill she could hardly believe was being introduced “by a man who has never been married and has no children.”

Imagine it: you’re a single mom (from the language, this bill is clearly aimed at women). You collapse on the couch after a long day at work and feeding and bathing and getting your kids to bed, all by yourself, as usual. You click on the TV to relax, and some ad pops up and pompously, self-righteously, ignorantly tells you what a crappy parent and child abuser you are, just because you aren’t married. I don’t think so, Wisconsin.

In the event the bill does in fact become law, the effect will likely be muted. Aside from maligning single parents, the legislation contains no criminal penalties.