Finally dragged myself kicking and screaming to read the Every Child Counts paper that I printed out “1,000 days to get it right for every child”
It was as painful as I expected – and that was just a quick scan. But what really astounded me was their dismissal of marriage – despite the overwhelming evidence which shows that children do better emotionally, physically, and mentally in 2-parent married homes. Rates of child abuse and domestic violence are particularly low in 2-parent married homes compared to all other family forms. (see the evidence http://bobmccoskrie.com/?p=1408)
International research suggests that the private costs of sole parenting and unmarried childbearing include increased risks of poverty, mental illness, infant mortality, physical illness, juvenile delinquency and adult criminality, sexual abuse and other forms of family violence, economic hardship, substance abuse, and educational failure. In this report emphasis is given to the effect of family breakdown and decreasing marriage rates on poverty among families with children. Family breakdown and decreasing marriage rates also lead to social costs by increasing the fiscal costs to taxpayers through increasing take-up of government programmes (e.g., the number of children and adults in need of income assistance) and through influencing the social problems facing communities – such as crime and poor health outcomes. Teenage childbearing has a long-lasting effect on the wellbeing of the women and children involved, including interrupted education, reduced earning potential, and reduced career prospects.
So what is the view on marriage in this paper that is supposedly trying to improve outcomes for children?
Bergman (1994) notes that an efficacious and humane approach to the cure of child poverty would be to take the weakening of marriage as a given and to look for politically acceptable ways of capturing more economic resources for children in single-parent families. Such policies may further weaken the incentives to marriage, but that may be unavoidable. If the priority is children’s development into self-actualised citizens, personal preferences about morality and marriage are a secondary consideration.
Today it has snowed in Auckland for the first time in 80 years. A great night to put the fire on – and I have the perfect paper to get the fire started 🙂
And then snuggle up to the fire, read WHY MARRIAGE MATTERS (a comprehensive report from the social sciences summarising why marriage matters), and then reflect on why Every Child Counts will never solve the social problems we have in NZ.