A school board's message:Women good, men bad (National Post May 30,2007)

A school board's message:Women good, men bad

Barbara Kay, National Post
Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Peel District School Board is one of Canada's largest, as its $1-billion budget, 13,000 academic staff, 145,000 students and 226 schools attest. Imagine the burden of responsibility felt by its trustees, knowing so many tender and malleable young minds are in their hands.

So if signing off on an official school board document, a pamphlet say, tasked with guiding thousands of teachers in negotiating sensitive domestic issues with certain students, such a board would to a man and woman rigorously interrogate its text to ensure the accuracy of the facts and the objectivity of their provenance. The last thing the trustees would want is to perpetuate falsehoods or half-truths, certainly not any calculated to arouse teachers' prejudice against half the student body for no good reason.

In 2000, the Peel District School Board accepted a grant from the Ontario Ministry of Education and the Ontario Women's Directorate, specifically tied to programming around violence against women. The context of the chosen project was determined to be domestic violence. Breaking the Silence was construed as a teachers' guide for identifying and helping children who witness violence in their homes.

If the teachers followed the guidelines, however, they would only be alert to children whose fathers abused their mothers -- not the other way around -- as witness the following representative statements from the pamphlet:

"Women abuse is a serious problem"; "Violence against women is a crime; it is never justified or acceptable"; "Woman abuse is about ?a husband or partner controlling a woman's behaviour ? and may condemn a woman and her children to suffer in silence"; "Children who witness violence in the home?may feel guilty for not protecting their mother"; "In Ontario, as many as six women are murdered each month by their current or former male partner."

The board seems not to have done any independent research at all before putting its name on this document. For example, even though unsourced, the last absurd "statistic" symbolizes the fecklessness of the entire enterprise, implying that Ontario saw "as many as" 72 women murdered by their male partners in 2000, when the national 2000 spousal homicide total was 67!

Now it may be that the Ontario Women's Directorate -- like all feminist groups I know of -- equates "domestic violence" with "violence against women." But in fact, of course, "domestic violence" has been unequivocally identified as a bilateral problem, statistically initiated by men and women partners in almost identical proportions, with women at higher risk to commit child abuse.

So where did the Ontario Women's Directorate's one-sided findings on domestic violence come from, which the board accepted for the pamphlet without demur? Not from peer-reviewed sociologists or StatsCan. No, the Peel Board simply downloaded information provided by Interim Place, the Salvation Army Family Life Resource Centre and Family Transition Place, women's shelters about whom the most charitable thing one can say regarding their bogus "research" is that it is uncredentialed, guilty of selection bias, ideologically driven, patently skewed and utterly unreliable.

Breaking the Silence encourages teachers to assume -- and in a trickledown way, communicate to children -- that females won't be held responsible for any violence they initiate, that males' characters are inherently worse than females', and that the pain of all children who witness abuse of their father by their mother, or who themselves suffer abuse by their mother, is socially inadmissable. Breaking the Silence is the misandric equivalent of racism: "We" are blameless; "they" cause trouble.

The Ontario Women's Directorate's grant was one more sortie in a radical feminist drive to (further) entrench anti-male bias amongst educators. But when dealing with such an important issue as gender bias (imagine the outcry if the pamphlet's implication of sole responsibility for domestic violence were gender-reversed), it was the school board's responsibility to verify that they had received credible information, after which they should have printed the whole truth -- half truths in this case are as good as lies -- or foregone the funding and dropped the project.

Breaking the Silence should be withdrawn from use, and teachers informed of the reason. Then the Peel Board and the Ontario Ministry of Education should apologize to the boys in their care for the gender bias they have been exposed to that we know about -- like this pamphlet -- and the myriad other "educational" anti-male strategies that we have yet to discover.


© National Post 2007