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The state-of-the-art in what is best for children of divorce. Every parent, judge and family law attorney must view this video to save their children from the ravages of divorce.
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      Flawed DHHS Report Offers Little Holiday Cheer to Men

      The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is planning to release a one-sided and biased report called the “Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Women’s Mental Health.” The report is being developed by the Surgeon General’s Women’s Mental Health Project: http://www.4women.gov/owh/ichp/surgeongeneral.cfm. But if we take action now, we can turn this around.

      This is our recommendation to Dr. John Agwunobi, the DHHS Assistant Secretary for Health:

      Because the flaws in the draft report are so systematic, we request that a new report be commissioned that reflects a balanced and truthful perspective on the mental health problems faced by women and men.

      The detailed critique is included in the letter below. Please put your name and address at the bottom of the letter and e-mail it to:

      John O. Agwunobi, MD
      Assistant Secretary for Health
      Department of Health and Human Services
      Email: john.agwunobi@hhs.gov

      And send a CC of your letter to:

      Janet East, Director
      Office of the Executive Secretariat
      Department of Health and Human Services
      Email: JEAST@osophs.dhhs.gov

      Think of the anguish and sorrow of fathers who will be spending the Holiday Season this year without their children due to false allegations of domestic violence. If allowed to come out, this report will cause lasting damage to families, children, and men.

      Send your letter today!!

      Dear Dr. Agwunobi:

      I am writing in regard to the draft “Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Women’s Mental Health.”

      As this letter documents, the report includes false statistics about domestic violence, contains other inaccurate statements, and selectively reports the facts of mental illness. Its assumptions, conclusions, and recommendations are fundamentally biased.

      Because the report is so deeply flawed, we request you commission a new report that reflects a balanced and truthful perspective on the mental health problems faced by women and men.

      False Statistics about Domestic Violence

      The draft report states on page 7 that women are “three times more likely to suffer from intimate partner violence.” That flawed statistic comes from the National Violence Against Women Survey, which has been strongly criticized for under-reporting the true prevalence of partner violence and biasing the responses in favor of women.

      A lmost 200 studies on partner violence have reached the consistent conclusion that women are equally likely as men to engage in domestic violence:

      • Irene Hanson Frieze concluded in the September 2005 issue of Psychology of Women Quarterly that “research indicates that women can be just as violent as their partners.”

      • A 2000 meta-analysis by Dr. John Archer in Psychological Bulletin concluded, “Women were slightly more likely than men to use one or more act of physical aggression.” 

      • Dr. Martin Fiebert of California State University recently summarized his research, “women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners.”  (http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm)

      Other Inaccurate Statements

      The report makes other statements that are vague, misleading, unsupported, and/or false:

      Abuse: The report repeatedly makes the claim that women are at higher risk of being “abused,” without defining what this vague term means. On page 8, that claim is supported by citation number 58, a WHO report titled “Gender and Women’s Health: Gender and Disaster.” However, a search reveals that report is no longer located on the Internet. Since it cannot be found or verified, it should not be cited in a US government document.

      If the report wishes to highlight the problem of child abuse, then it should cite the Administration of Children’s and Families report, Child Maltreatment 2004, which shows that boys and girls are subjected to abuse at almost identical rates: http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm04/index.htm

      Trauma and Violence: The report often refers to women who suffer from trauma and violence. But by any public health indicator, it’s men who are at far greater risk of dying from trauma and violence. According to Health, United States 2006 (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus06.pdf), unintentional injuries claimed the lives of 70,532 men in 2003, compared to 38,745 women. Likewise, men’s death rate from homicide is 9.4 per 100,000, compared to 2.6 for women, more than a three-fold difference.

      Depression: The report states, “women are nearly twice as likely as men to suffer from major depression” (page 5). That statement is misleading because it does not consider the fact that the diagnostic criteria for depression often fail to detect depression in men. That is one reason why the NIH National Institute of Mental Health established its “Real Men, Real Depression” program.

      Socioeconomic Status: The report claims that women “face a lower average socioeconomic status compared to men” (page 8). That statement is supported by two citations. The first citation (number 59) is a report about natural disasters that does not cite even a single study to support any claim about women’s economic disadvantage (http://www.who.int/gender/gwhgendernd2.pdf). The second citation (number 60) is a 2005 workshop presentation that cannot be located, nor can its claims be verified. Neither citation is appropriate to include in a US government report that aims to be authoritative.

      The truth is, there is no evidence to support the broad claim that women “face a lower average socioeconomic status compared to men.” In fact, that claim has been repeatedly disproved by economist Victor Fuchs, sociologist Martha Gimenez, and many others.

      Selective Reporting of Facts

      The entire draft report rests on the assumption that women are at greater risk of mental health problems. By failing to report key public health statistics, that assumption is never tested.

      The following mortality statistics are strongly influenced by persons’ mental health status (Health, United States, 2006, Table 29):

      Chronic liver disease/Cirrhosis (Deaths per 100,000)

      Men:    13.0
      Women: 6.0

      Suicide (Deaths per 100,000)

      Men:    18.0
      Women: 4.2

      For both causes of death, men have substantially higher risk of dying than women. Of particular concern is the effect of divorce on fathers’ suicide risk. Sociologist Augustine Kposowa found that divorced men were more than twice as likely to commit suicide as married men, and almost 10 times more likely to kill themselves as divorced women.

      But these facts are never mentioned, much less discussed in the Surgeon General’s report.

      Finally, the major disparities affecting African-American men should be highlighted, a concern that has been highlighted by the Congressional Black Caucus. In 2003, the life expectancy at birth was:

      Black men:    69.0 years
      White men:    75.3 years
      Black women: 76.1 years
      White women: 80.5 years

      These troubling lifespan disparities are caused, in part, by mental health problems.

      Summary and Recommendation

      In summary, the “Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Women’s Mental Health” includes claims and statistics that are one-sided, vague, unsupported, misleading, and/or demonstrably false. It does not adequately represent the extent of mental health problems faced by women. It misrepresents, downplays, or ignores altogether the mental health problems faced by men, particularly minority men. It does not provide a credible basis for setting public health priorities or establishing a plan of action for the Department of Health and Human Services.

      Although women indeed face unique mental health problems, this report does not do justice to that public health concern. Rather, the draft “Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Women’s Mental Health” may actually end up discrediting this important issue.

      Because the flaws in the draft report are so systemic, I am requesting that a new report be commissioned that reflects a balanced and truthful perspective on the mental health problems faced by women and men.

      I look forward to receiving your response.


      Date of RADAR Release: December 11, 2006

      R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to assure that the problem of domestic violence is treated in a balanced and effective manner. http://www.mediaradar.org.

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