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Broken homes, battered children

One of the most distressing consequences of the decline of the traditional family based on marriage has been the association between ‘alternative family structures’ and the abuse or neglect of children.

Robert Whelan

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Children don’t fare so well when they don’t have their mother and father looking out for their interests, but for many years this was a controversial thing to say. Proponents of alternative lifestyles would counter that there was no evidence to show that any family type carried a higher risk than another. This was to a certain extent true, because there was no official data on child abuse that broke down cases by family type, beyond the excellent dataset maintained between 1973 and 1990 by the NSPCC on behalf of those local authorities for which the charity managed their child protection registers. The NSPCC figures distinguished between one-parent and two-parent households, and indicated whether both adults were natural parents or not. However, they did not include any reference to marriage. The official government statistics, which became the only source of information after the closure of the NSPCC project in 1990, broke down cases by gender and local authority only.