Monday, April 04, 2011

The flowers that bloom & child abuse

OK I confess --- these are not my hyacinths. I sneaked over to the neighbor's flower bed in full sun along the sheltered south side of her house a little while ago and virtually stole them (with the camera, not literally). But it's good to see their bright colors again. My daffodils, on the east side of the house, are blooming, but nothing on the more exposed west side has developed much enthusiasm yet.

Sunday here felt like summer, with a high of 86. In Iowa's typical whiplash way, today's high was 50 with a fierce and chilly wind. That wind is predicted to continue for another day.


The Des Moines Register carried a sad story on its front page Sunday about Chariton's neighbor to the southeast, Centerville, population 5,300 and the seat of Appanoose County. That small town had the highest per capita rate of child abuse in the state, according to a Register analysis of state child-welfare statistics. That means slightly more than four out of every 100 children were subject to abuse ranging from sexual to neglectful during 2009. Fifty-three founded cases of abuse were recorded that year --- one a week. The county total in Appanoose was 119.

Neither Chariton nor Corydon was among the Iowa cities reporting more than 20 founded cases of abuse during the year, but on a county-wide basis, Lucas County's performance was nothing to be proud of. County-wide, we recorded 43 founded cases during 2009 (two out of every hundred children). Wayne, smaller than Lucas, recorded 25 (1.64 out of every hundred).

Ottumwa, the largest city in the region, was third in per capita abuse statewide with 176 founded cases of abuse representing roughly three out of every 100 children.

Most attribute the rates to poverty --- Appanoose County, identified by the Register as Iowa's poorest, had a 2009 median household income of $32,943. By comparison, median household income in Lucas was $43,606; and in Wayne, $35,332.

How to interpret the story is another matter, and it was interesting to read the "comments" left online, blaming (a) the Register for reporting the story, (b) the Department of Human Services for being too eager to detect child abuse, (c) Centerville, for being too expensive a place to live --- and so on. Someone suggested Appanoose County simply was more conscientious about reporting child abuse, and that, too, is a possibility.

The point of the exercise is, however, that child abuse is a state-wide problem, not limited to Appanoose or any other county. But you just don't hear much outrage about it. The Christian types have been devoting all their attention lately to the evils of same-sex marriage.

I think I can guarantee one thing --- that an undetectable fraction if any of these abuse cases across the state involved same-sex couples. Heterosexuals have managed to raise a generation that contains far too many abused, rootless, unloved, unwanted, damaged and confused kids. What to do about it? Blame the queers. Talk about moral bankruptcy.

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