Canada’s Chief Public Health Official Mostly Clueless on Domestic Violence

October 31, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Last February, I reported on the recent data from Canada’s statistical agency, Statistics Canada, on domestic violence over the preceding five years. I first reported the excellent news that, compared with ten years previously, the overall incidence of domestic violence was dramatically down. In fact, 4% of Canadians reported victimization in the previous five years compared to 7% so reporting 10 years ago. That’s a drop of 43%, i.e. no small change.

But, the DV establishment is seldom interested in good news. Its funding depends on the perception that we live in a perpetual state of crisis. So I predicted that the good news would be either ignored or downplayed.

That’s something to celebrate. After all, a drop to 4% from 7% is a decrease of 43% in rates of domestic violence in just ten years. It’s hard to overstate the importance of such a change. In a population of about 36 million people, that represents hundreds of thousands fewer people dealing with abuse in the home. Will the DV establishment join the celebration? I doubt it. Their funding depends to a great degree on there always being a crisis, so for them, all too often, good news is bad news. Perhaps we’ll see.

And so we are (Ottawa Citizen, 10/21/16). Sure enough, according to the country’s chief public health official, Dr. Gregory Taylor, the scope of domestic violence is “staggering.”

Physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and murder — family violence is a pervasive but often hidden reality within Canadian society, says the country’s top doctor, who calls the scope of the problem "staggering."

"This is a serious public health issue in Canada, one that can have long-lasting and widespread effects on the health of individuals, families and communities," said Dr. Gregory Taylor, who on Friday released a 60-page report focusing on family violence.

"The health impacts of family violence extend far beyond physical injuries and include poor mental health, psychological and emotional distress, suicide, and increased risk of chronic diseases and conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes."

Of course, we can all agree that any DV is too much DV, but the reality is that Canadians overall do a pretty good job of refraining from violence in the home. After all, if 4% suffer DV in five years, on average, that’s 0.8% per year. To call that “staggering” is to stretch the definition of the word beyond reason. And when we consider that the vast majority of DV is minor, i.e. resulting in either no injury at all or nothing more than, in the words of a major study out of Scotland, “a minor cut or bruise,” we come to understand that Taylor has an agenda other than a rational approach to a public health problem that all agree needs work.

That agenda becomes clear in short order.

In 2014, the latest year for which statistics are available, almost 58,000 girls and women were victims of family violence, said Taylor, Canada’s chief public health officer.

Every four days, one woman in Canada was killed by a family member; every six days, a woman was killed by an intimate partner; while a man was murdered by a partner every 23 days.

"There’s no question that women bear the brunt of the most severe forms of family violence," he said. "But men and boys are certainly victims as well."

Yes, Taylor offers up the usual distortions about DV in which women are, for all practical purposes, the only victims and men the only perpetrators. I suppose we’re supposed to consider it progress that, 45 years after Erin Pizzey warned us about the propensity of women to commit violence against their intimate partners, Canada’s chief public health official can only manage to toss in male victimization as an aside of little or no importance.

Taylor should consult the data his own country produced earlier this year. It reveals that 55% of people reporting victimization were men and boys. Somehow, you’d think they’d rate at least a prominent mention, but no, Taylor is still living in a gender-feminist world in which male victimization either doesn’t exist or is barely worth a mention.

Nor does it avail him anything to pretend that women’s violence against men isn’t serious. The same data produced by Stats Canada demonstrates that men are more likely than women to be victims of severe DV. As I said last February,

But then the Stats Canada report makes this claim that’s actually flat wrong: “Women more likely to experience severe spousal violence compared to men.” The statement is followed by a chart showing the percentages of women and men victimized in various ways, e.g. “hit, choked, threatened with a gun or knife,” etc. But when the percentages are applied to the actual numbers of male and female victims, it turns out that about 422,180 men versus 338,580 women experienced violence defined as severe. There again, men made up about 55.4% of victims.

Not content to exaggerate the importance of DV, Taylor moved on to misrepresent our understanding of it.

But identifying the root causes of family violence is difficult, said Taylor, because the issue is "highly complex."

"We really don’t understand this," he admitted. "And consequently, we don’t really understand what are the best interventions in trying to deal with that."

Actually, we understand DV quite well. It’s aberrant behavior that’s usually learned in childhood from experiencing DV personally or witnessing it in the home. That is, it’s learned behavior that’s passed down from one generation to the next, parent to child. And our understanding of how to correct that aberrant behavior is also pretty good. Teaching perpetrators how to channel anger and victims how to avoid triggering can be pretty straightforward.

Can we help everyone? Can we eradicate DV? Probably not. But the plaint that, in some way, “we just don’t understand” is bogus. What we don’t understand is how to rid ourselves of the self-evidently false paradigm of DV taught by gender feminists for so long and move on to therapeutic interventions that actually work.

And on that note…

Taylor believes a huge barrier to addressing family violence is that many victims keep silent, perhaps out of fear for their safety or the safety of their children, from feelings of shame or denial, or concern that they or their family will be judged or shunned by others.

"We don’t talk about it perhaps because of stigma," he said, suggesting that the first step toward reducing family violence is to break down the wall of silence surrounding the issue.

"We need to really bring this out in the open. We need to talk about this. And I think we need to make it unacceptable in our society."

Bunk. Utter nonsense. The reasons people don’t report DV more often are two: first, they understand that most DV doesn’t require the intervention of the police and second, they don’t trust the DV industry to deal with the issue properly. In both, everyday people demonstrate themselves to be far smarter than people like Taylor. Very frequently, the worst thing anyone can do is to turn over a minor DV incident to the people who’ve proven time and again to be incompetent to handle it.

Here’s a suggestion that neither Taylor nor anyone else in the DV establishment will want to hear: take a constructive, science-based approach to domestic violence and see if more people aren’t willing to come forward and become part of the solution. As things stand now, people well know that, if anyone – man or woman – makes a report of DV, the police will arrest the man, bar him from seeing his wife and kids, bar him from his home, charge him with a crime which he then has to pay a lawyer to defend. He may well lose his job and find it hard to find a new one. When the incident is minor, the huge majority of people just don’t want to go through that, and sensibly so.

Offer those people an approach to DV that (a) has a possibility of working and (b) doesn’t carry the draconian consequences existing practices do and we may see them become much more amenable to reporting incidents of DV and getting help.

But of course, as the linked-to article makes abundantly clear, sensible approaches to DV are far, far away.




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National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

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#domesticviolence, #StatsCanada

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