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Jenkins Case Shows Custody System Doesn’t Protect Kids from Abusive Moms

Posted on: October 4, 2009

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Jenkins Case Shows Custody System Doesn’t Protect Kids from Abusive Moms

August 1st, 2009 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

“Jenkins’ willful fracturing of a toddler’s skull was apparently insufficient to convince a court to restrict her contact with her other children to only supervised visitation, or less.”

In this case, we have a woman, Melissa Scott Jenkins, who is the mother of three children, each with a different father (FoxNews, 7/31/09). In 2008, she pleaded guilty to willfully fracturing the skull of her infant son by striking it on “a surface.” For that she was sentenced to 29 days of work release and fined $75.50. Prior to that incident, the boy was either in state custody or that of his father, and Jenkins had visitation rights.

Now a second of Jenkins’s sons, eight-year-old Robert Manwill, is missing. Boise, Idaho police fear he may be injured and Jenkins isn’t talking. Robert’s father had custody of him and Jenkins had visitation rights. He disappeared during one of Jenkins’ visitation periods.

Jenkins’ third child is a two-year-old daughter, also in the custody of her father. Mercifully, she seems to remain alive and uninjured.

Feminist organizations like NOW oppose equally shared parenting on the spurious basis that, if fathers are allowed equal rights in family courts, children will be thrust into the hands of violent abusers.

The reasons why that is a nonsensical argument are too numerous to mention in this posting, but the case of Melissa Scott Jenkins amply illustrates a few.

First, existing child custody laws don’t do a great job of preventing injuries to children by their parents. In the Jenkins case, her willful fracturing of a toddler’s skull was apparently insufficient to convince a court to restrict her contact with her other children to only supervised visitation, or less. Why? We don’t know, but whatever the reason, the fact remains that under the current child custody scheme, parents injure children. If shared parenting were adopted, they still would. Shared parenting won’t change human nature. To demand that it do so is to set the bar well too high.

Second, shared parenting essentially is aimed at dispensing with the concept of primary custody and visitation in favor of equal custody by both parents. (That is most importantly because children benefit from active parenting by both mother and father. Secondarily, it’s to give fathers access to their children – access the current system all too readily denies.) Why that would increase the likelihood of child abuse, feminist apologists for the current system never make clear. As the Jenkins case shows, parents with only visitation rights can injure as surely as anyone else.

Third, mothers injure children as often as fathers do – maybe more so. Department of Justice figures indicate that, in cases in which a child is injured by one parent only, that parent is twice as likely to be its mother as its father. Now that’s not to say that women are more dangerous to children than are men. Likely the DoJ figures reflect the fact that women spend more time caring for children than do men. But the feminist assumption that fathers are inherently dangerous to children, and therefore any law that seeks to connect children to their fathers is dangerous to them, is, to say the least, at odds with the facts.

Under any child custody system, Melissa Scott Jenkins apparently should at most have some sort of supervised visitation. That’s because she’s proven herself to be a serious danger to children in her care. Equally shared parenting isn’t about protecting the rights of women or men like her. Under equally shared parenting, courts will still have to decide on whether a parent presents a danger to a child. If she/he does, then appropriate measures can be taken to protect the child. If not, then 50/50 custody is the rule.

The next time a feminist organization like NOW argues in favor of the current, radically unequal system, remember Melissa Scott Jenkins.

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