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Zero Percent Rate of Abuse In Lesbian Households

By Sierra Black |

Zero percent abuse rate reported in lesbian households

Zero percent abuse rate reported in lesbian households

A long-term study of lesbian parents and their children has turned up a surprising statistic: there is no sexual or physical abuse. Not a single case. The abuse rate in the lesbian households studied was literally zero percent.

Compare that to the 26% of teens in the general population who report being abused by their parents, and lesbian moms seem pretty awesome.

That’s a great headline for queer mamas who are too frequently called on to defend their lifestyle and parenting choices, simply because of who they are. But can it possibly be accurate?

Of course not. Lesbian moms, as a group, may be the rock stars of the parenting world. But no demographic group is perfect. They’re human, and diverse, and complicated. Somewhere, a woman who loves women is probably mistreating her kids.

The study this statistic came from is valuable because it was extremely long-term, following these families through their children’s lives for many years. The downside is that they had a remarkably small sample size: only 78 kids participated. All the study subjects had to have their parents’ permission to talk to interviewers.

So the abuse rate in a small, self-selected group of lesbian families is zero. That I can believe.

The study authors point out that there are good reasons to believe the abuse rate in lesbian households everywhere is nearly nil: most physical or sexual abuse is perpetrated by heterosexual men. Living in households without straight men might really dramatically lower these kids’ risk of being abused.

At the very least, this study should help to further dispel the awful misconception that kids with gay parents are somehow at a higher risk for being abused.

Photo: Drab Makyo

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About Sierra Black

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Sierra Black

Sierra Black lives, writes and raises her kids in the Boston area. She loves irreverence, hates housework and wants to be a writer and mom when she grows up. Read bio and latest posts → Read Sierra's latest posts →

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9 thoughts on “Zero Percent Rate of Abuse In Lesbian Households

  1. Diera says:

    I don’t think you’re right about the majority of physical abuse being perpetrated by men – I think that’s true of sexual abuse, but not physical abuse. See this link, for example: http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/statistics/can.cfm and look at the link ‘Child Maltreatment’ from 2008. In their statistics, with physical and sexual abuse combined, women were 56.2 percent of the perpetrators, while men were 42.6 (1.2 percent were unknown). This is a .gov site so these should be decent numbers, and they’re in accord with what I’ve always heard (that men commit more sexual abuse, but women commit as much or more physical abuse).

  2. andrea says:

    Good point, Diera. If we made assault against children illegal, the majority of domestic abusers would be women. The usual portrayal of a domestic violence situation is a cowering woman being abused by some evil man, but the reality is even worse- it’s usually helpless children cowering at the hands of their supposedly loving mothers.

    I’m glad lesbian mothers in this study do not abuse their children. I’m glad when no children are abused. But let’s not march out this ridiculous feminazi “evil men” trope. I’ll bet these couples were all affluent, college educated and in stable, loving relationships, and if you found 78 heterosexual couples with the same characteristics, you would stand a good chances to find zero abuse, too.

  3. starrsitter says:

    I think an important dynamic at play here is that these families chose to have children and often have to fight for the right to have them. I’m certainly not saying that those of us who were surprised by a pregnancy abuse our children (or even that we love them less). I say ‘we’ because my son was a surprise. I don’t think that it should come as a shock that people who wanted to have a child so much that they went to the lengths that some lesbian families do are less likely to abuse those children once they do have them.

  4. bob says:

    There are a lot of solid insights in these three comments.

  5. Treespeed says:

    There are quite a few studies that contradict these findings and show that lesbian relationships also experience about a %10 rate of domestic violence that I’m sure translates into child abuse at a similar rate.
    Maybe better than hetero couples, but not immune.

  6. [...] a research center on sexual …New Findings on the Children of Lesbian MomsBlogHer (blog)Zero Percent Rate of Abuse In Lesbian HouseholdsBabble (blog)Absolutely No – As in Zero – Cases of Abuse Reported in Lesbian [...]

  7. Girl says:

    Sample size is so small that this study isn’t even worth commenting on. Used to do intakes for CPS and trust me, there are plenty of women, including lesbians, perpetrating child abuse. Actually, it seemed to me (this is my perception, I don’t have statistics) that the majority of cases I took had women as perpetrators, due to the fact that many kids have far more women in their lives than they do men.

    I sure hope I’m a better parent than my lesbian sisters-in-law. They aren’t abusive, but they sure are angry, overbearing, argumentative a-holes. Not because they’re lesbians, but because they’re jerks.

  8. Meagan says:

    “If we made assault against children illegal” Huh? Pretty sure it’s already illegal.

    I agree that the statement: “most physical or sexual abuse is perpetrated by heterosexual men.” is not only ridiculous, but easily verified as incorrect. I really hope that was a misquote. I think this sort of study is important, and revealing (or having) that kind of bias isn’t helpful to anyone.

  9. Lucky says:

    Unfortunately, most people who hold that bias have no use for facts…

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