- The Washington Times - Friday, July 5, 2002

“Revenge incites parents who kill” (Nation, June 24) gives the false impression that fathers are more likely to abuse children than mothers.

The article quotes Nancy Ruhe-Munch, executive director of the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children. According to her, cases in which a parent kills his or her child are “not as rare as you might think; normally, it's a stepparent. But it's not uncommon for the parent himself [to kill his offspring]. Usually, it's the father.”

This is untrue. According to a Department of Health and Human Services report released in April 2001, “The most common pattern of maltreatment (44.7%) was a child victimized by a female parent acting alone. Female parents were identified as the perpetrators of neglect and physical abuse for the highest percentage of child victims. In contrast, male parents were identified as the perpetrators of sexual abuse for the highest percentage of victims.”

Additionally, while acknowledging “there is no typical' child abuser,” Prevent Child Abuse Wisconsin reports that data collected by 21 states show that 61.8 percent of child abuse perpetrators were female.

Many people want to excuse Andrea Yates for murdering her children because she suffered from postpartum depression. Some even want to blame her husband. Nevertheless, it should come as no surprise that the majority of perpetrators of child neglect and physical abuse are female.

The facts are there. Only after they are admitted can the reasons for such misbehavior be understood and dealt with.

Like many social concerns, only after you admit there is a problem can it be dealt with.


DON MATHIS

San Antonio


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