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What we rarely hear about is the increased risk of sexual abuse by men who lack the constraints that protect most children from incest.That risk is spelt out in great detail in a new research report by the Centre for Independent Studies.
One such study, the 2010 US Fourth National Incidence Study of Abuse and Neglect, found that children whose single parent had a partner in the home were 20 times more likely to be sexually abused than those in a two-biological-parent family.Step and single-parent families accounted for only one-third of all children in the US, but more than two-thirds of all children who experienced child sexual abuse.There is research from Britain and many other countries showing similar results.Sammut is rightly critical of the fact that in Australia we are denied the statistics likely to show comparable patterns.Data on child abuse published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare fail to distinguish between fathers and ''stepfathers''.Sammut argues this reluctance to publish relevant statistics is because of politically correct attitudes towards family diversity - ''namely the fiction that the traditional family is just one amongst many equally worthy family forms''.
The increased risk of child sexual abuse is simply one illustration of the fact that a child's life prospects are greatly influenced by the type of family they live with.
Yet that is an unpalatable truth many people are determined to deny.
Public attention is riveted on the tragic stories emerging from the royal commission into child sexual abuse, but this is not the main game when it comes to the risks to children.
The most likely perpetrator of sexual abuse on children lurks not in public institutions, but in the family home.
The villains are sometimes fathers or other relatives, but the rapid increase in the proportion of children who do not live with their two biological parents - now more than one in every four (27 per cent) - has opened the door to dangerous strangers, to mum's new boyfriend.
We are regularly exposed to sad news stories of children battered by men passing through the lives of sole mothers.