This month is national child abuse prevention month. https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth/

I was very poor as a kid, and I was abused. Very poor folks hang out with other very poor folks. Poor housing isn't mixed with rich housing, but with other poor housing. There is a statistical creature called a "dragon king" beween poverty and crime. I knew a lot of other kids who went through the same (or worse) stuff that I did.

I asked a question here that was meant to get data, and to raise a little awareness about the cycle of child abuse. It was aggressively down-voted, and comments were made that the premise was false. I saw it with my own eyes and there are extensive research and government programs engineered to address the non-false premise. The down-voters did not want to hear it.

How can I ask questions meant to empower me as a parent, and provide a forum for educating other parents about child abuse prevention if it is immediately and unilaterally down-voted? Is it really not "politically correct" to discuss the cycle of child abuse from a parent and former victims perspective on "Parenting"? Can you point me to a memo or other guideline showing where I missed that?

Due to transitions at my company I may be on the job market in the very near future. This question could be career impacting, and will have to be deleted. Folks don't like hiring people who had less than pristine upbringings.

  • 1
    I found your use of personal statistics to be a problem with the original question. Of the people that I personally know who were sexually abused as children, 100% have not perpetuated that cycle -- it's clear that our anecdotal data is inaccurate (on both sides), and so it is not conducive to a good question (or answer). A better question could be along the lines of "what are ways that a cycle of abuse [link to evidence of cycle of abuse] can be broken"... or even just asking for information about percentages, and then answering your own question if you know the answer.
    – Acire
    Apr 18, 2016 at 18:11
  • @Erica - You know that 80% of arrestees for violent crimes are males, and 86% of victims of violent crimes are male. Only one in 20 male victims was attacked by a relative or intimate, the other 19 of 20 were by strangers or acquaintances. For women it is 10 of 20 in the stranger vs. non-stranger. Gender plays a substantial difference in the phenomenology of violence. Apr 18, 2016 at 23:33
  • 5
    I don't understand the relevance. Did you think I was only referring to women in my earlier comment? (I wasn't.)
    – Acire
    Apr 18, 2016 at 23:58

2 Answers 2


I hope I can address some of your points to your satisfaction.

Ideally this site is meant to address and give specific advice to parents (or those people acting in the temporary role of parents) with problems that they actually face. Some hypothetical questions that may help parents facing such problems are also on-topic, as are questions from children over 13 years of age having problems with their parents, and a few other kinds of questions as well.

While wanting to raise awareness about important problems is admirable, that particular goal doesn't always fit this site's guidelines set out in the help pages and the sites Meta. Questions such as Are ExerSaucers/walkers/jumpers bad for children or is that simply a misconception? and How should the children be taught to be wary of physically present strangers? are on topic, but your question was not about specific dangers children might face. It was asking for a statistic:

What percent of kids who, under 8 were exposed to sexual abuse do NOT go on to become perpetrators when they are older? Is there any evidence to support that the rate is above 10%?

While that may be very important, it's not on topic for this site. It's not asking about a problem parents face; it's asking for studies to confirm an experience you've had:

I have my own personal observations that suggest that it is around 12% (ish) do NOT go on to abuse others, and I am looking to be disproved.

Your question was not down voted and closed because no one cares about child abuse or because it was "politically incorrect". It was closed simply because it is not on topic for the site.

There is a site on Stack Exchange where (if you show a source in the media), you might get such a question answered. That is Skeptics.SE. However, since they require a source (not just an observation), your question could not be migrated there.

How can I ask questions meant to empower me as a parent, and provide a forum for educating other parents about child abuse prevention if it is immediately and unilaterally down-voted?

We want to empower parents. I'm not exactly sure how knowing this particular statistic can help individual parents with their children. Most parents don't know the background of every person that comes into contact with their children, so while it might be relevant on a case-by-case basis, even there, it's unlikely to fit on this site. For example, a question asking, "My brother was sexually abused as a child. Is it safe to let him babysit my children?" might be partially answered by such a statistic, but statistics don't address that particular situation (statistics are only statistics), and the answers are going to be primarily opinion based*, which is also a close reason.

*primarily opinion-based — Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.

For additional reading:
What types of questions should I avoid asking?
“Actual problems that you face”
What topics can I ask about here?

  • I am watching kids and there is, impo, a huge upswell in exposure to sexuality following last summers LGBT ruling. I am watching kids that are, imo, "too young" take on sexual identity. that can't be a meaningful thing without sexual activity. When I look at gardasil being recommended to 9 year olds that means something about cultural norms for onset of activity. At what age is it reasonable to become very vigilant, and to educate (and maybe equip for violent self defense) my daughters to ensure they are not harmed by their peers? To train that is a loss of innocence, a sad thing. Apr 18, 2016 at 16:11
  • 5
    @EngrStudent - I have to admit that I'm having a bit of a problem understanding how your comment relates to this answer. Apr 18, 2016 at 16:20
  • I use math to make decisions in life. Game theory. If there is more than 50% likelihood then it is rational to treat that alternative as if it is going to happen more often than not. The rates of predation when I was a kid were small. The predators were really bad, but they were few, and limited by opportunity and fear of detection. If those rates are going to spike, then I need to change my strategy. Part of that is how I equip my kids. Telling my daughter what rape is, that is going to harm her innocence. Training her to be able to use "self defense" methods will too. Apr 18, 2016 at 16:23
  • I believe in data. "Safe" is like "tastes good" and can be subjective. When the worst rate of incidence is 12% and her friend-count is 60, then the ceiling on whether any friend is a "candidate" is around 25%, worst case. I can presume good before I get to know them. When the rate of incidence in the population jumps to 33% and it isn't worst case, then the ceiling moves to 51.67% for the plausible case. It is a radical jump, and drives a radical change in approach. Apr 18, 2016 at 17:35
  • 5
    EngrStudent - there is absolutely no data suggesting that kids are less safe now than when you were small, in fact a lot of data states the opposite! Statistics are not meant to be used the way you are suggesting - the maths just doesn't work that way.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Apr 19, 2016 at 7:21
  • 2
    Have A look at this one on Skeptics: skeptics.stackexchange.com/q/8033/619
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Apr 19, 2016 at 7:23
  • 5
    @EngrStudent - "The rates of predation when I was a kid were small. ...predators were...bad, but ...few, and limited by opportunity and fear..." I disagree with this, and would love to see your statistics backing that up. By my late teens, I was aware of a (now, to my adult eyes) startling amount of sexual abuse of people I grew up with, and in all but two cases, it went unreported (under-reporting continues today.) I doubt that the world was a safer place back then. All the math in the world won't help if you have no real numbers with which to make your calculations. The data isn't there. Apr 19, 2016 at 13:25
  • @RoryAlsop - statistics were not meant to be used for decision making and informing actions or policies? really? Not to be used to set bounds of confidence intervals for process control? Isn't the intention of the mean as the approach that one uses that, in the limit of many tests, provides the winningest approach? Apr 19, 2016 at 16:36
  • 5
    Not like that, no. In order to have any reasonable chance of managing risk, you can take statistics to give a general idea (but as anon said - you need to start with correct data, which you don't seem to have here) and then you need to know how relevant that is to you in your specific case. Statistics don't give you an answer that says "do this and that risk will reduce by X%" when it comes to an individual. It only works with large sample sizes. (disclaimer - I am a senior security risk manager, dealing with threat and risk for large banks for the last 17 years. This is kind of what I do)
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Apr 19, 2016 at 17:07

I can't find your question, so I can't say exactly what was wrong with it. But from what you've described, the question itself sounds like it would be a poor fit for this site.

First, this is a Q&A site, not a normal forum. As such, there needs to be a real, answerable question. When you say that your question was

meant to get data, and to raise a little awareness

that raises a couple flags for me.

First, if you want data, Google is a great way to go looking for it. Parenting.SE isn't a search engine and the other users aren't likely to appreciate being treated like one. (Again, since I can't find this question, I can't tell if this is what you intended or not.)

Second, if you want to raise awareness, this isn't really the place for that either. If you want to do that, write a blog, share posts on social media, etc. This site isn't meant to be your soap box. People may not take kindly to that, especially if your post turns into more of a rant than a question.

Also, based on your description, your question sounds like it may have had a problem with not having a real parenting problem. We want questions about actual problems you face. Wanting to gather data doesn't sound like that falls into the category of an "actual problem you face".

While I don't believe the following was your problem, it is good to keep in mind. People are allowed to use their downvotes any way they please. This site seems to be less harsh and have less random downvoting than some others. If you get one downvote, don't worry too much. If you get more, start looking at your question to make sure it is on-topic and doesn't do anything to make it off-topic. Make sure it uses proper spelling, grammar and paragraph breaks (to the best of your ability). Make sure it is organized in a way so it is easy to read and easy to understand.

  • I can hear about the flags. Google is good for data that everyone wants to find. It is less good for esoteric stuff. It is less good for stuff that could be political. I tried looking, and the best that I could find was for adults repeating the cycle at 30%. Awareness for people like me is not the same as for normal folks. It is not "in your face", but data. I do have a particular problem, but I don't like saying "do I have to talk to my daughter about rape now" or intervene in other ways in a public forum. Apr 18, 2016 at 18:41
  • 2
    @EngrStudent Unfortunately, any data we could provide here (assuming we allowed that kind of question) wouldn't be any less politically charged and biased than anything you could find through Google. Your best bet for that might be Skeptics.SE if you can make your question fit their standards.
    – Becuzz
    Apr 18, 2016 at 19:50
  • 2
    @EngrStudent On another note, the particular problem you do have is something we can help you with here. I know asking for that kind of help publicly can be hard, but you could try to anonymize it a bit. You could bring up your statistics as research as to why you are worried. But I think more important would be your circumstances (ie, your living conditions, if relevant, your family, your child's friends, school, etc.). As long as you provide relevant details (without so much as to allow someone to be able to identify you) it should be fine to ask if you are comfortable doing so.
    – Becuzz
    Apr 18, 2016 at 19:53
  • Without data, I can't see how any answer provided can help me. I do not know that there is anything anyone could say in the sense of anecdote or opinion, even insightful anecdote or opinion, to make me 'risk it' with that scale of well-being of my daughter. Apr 18, 2016 at 23:37
  • 2
    EngrStudent - I think you need to be aware that hard data is not really applicable to children or parenting. Humans can be predicted in aggregate, but not really as individuals
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Apr 19, 2016 at 8:16
  • 2
    @EngrStudent This is just my personal feeling, but data about families and parenting and such doesn't really tell you much about your specific child. For example, let's say 70% of the people who grew up in bad situation X will repeat X with their children. Some of the 30% are just people who never let X get to them. Some put in a considerable effort to make sure their kids never have to go through that. For some, circumstances change such that X becomes far less likely. (cont.)
    – Becuzz
    Apr 19, 2016 at 13:36
  • 1
    @EngrStudent (cont.) But the point isn't to know that X is likely. The point is that you need to work out how to end up in the 30% of people that made it better, not worry about what might happen just because it happened to someone else.
    – Becuzz
    Apr 19, 2016 at 13:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .