Child Abuse Statistics in the Peaceful Families & Project Sakinah 2011 Survey

Posted by GuestBloggers
4/16/2013 1:41 PM  RssIcon

by Allison Celik
April 15, 2013

Please also visit the Child Abuse page the Parent's Resources page and the Child Abuse Campaign page.

Over the past year, I’ve had the chance to talk to a lot of different people about the survey we completed in conjunction with the Peaceful Families Project; The Attitudes and Experiences of Muslim Men and Women towards Domestic Abuse. We had 801 Muslims who live in America respond, making it the largest survey of Muslim Americans regarding domestic abuse ever done.

I’ve talked to college kids, stay at home moms, professional dads, professional moms, grandmas and grandpas, and almost anyone else you can think of. Oddly enough, all of these different people have given pretty similar responses that fall into one of two groups:

“What are you saying? That I can’t discipline my kids anymore? Or I should just let my wife run off and spend all my money? Sometimes people need to be stopped from doing what’s wrong!” Or

“I am so glad you are raising awareness of this issue! The way that (other ethnic/linguistic/cultural group) treats their family members is just awful! I am so glad that my (ethnic/linguistic/cultural group) doesn’t have any problems like this.”

Sadly, neither one of these understandings is true. As Muslims, we are asked to help others (especially our family members!) to stay on the straight path, to raise our children in Islam, and to encourage each other to do righteous deeds. In my mind, there is a clear line between supporting and encouraging our family members to do what’s right as opposed to creating an environment where people live in fear of each other, fear of doing something “wrong”, fear of being mercilessly punished for an honest mistake. People (even children) can usually tell when they are in an environment where they are loved and respected vs one where they are belittled, neglected or harmed.

Different groups of people might have different ways of expressing love, respect, appreciation and support for family members, but this doesn’t change the fact that in every culture, in every language, every religion, you can find people who feel like they have a caring and compassionate family, and others who just can’t wait to leave all the negativity behind.

This is what I say to the people who tell me that “their people” never do anything like “abuse”, it’s all those other Muslims. In the 801 respondents we had to our survey, we had respondents from every ethnic group imaginable, as well as every income level, education level, age level and any other “level” you’d like to slice things up by. Sadly, our survey results show experiences of abuse that are, in many cases, actually higher than national averages.

Our survey showed that 1 out of every 3 respondents had experienced some type of abuse before the age of 18. The table below breaks these numbers down even further.

  men women
Total respondents in survey overall 170 631
Experienced some type of abuse under age 18 52 (30%) 211 (33%)
Physical abuse under age 18 33 (19%) 138 (22%)
Sexual abuse under age 18 7 (0.04%) 83 (13%)

Honestly, out of all those numbers, the one that sticks in my mind are the 90 children (83+7) who experienced sexual abuse. Every time I think of that number, I think of the following Hadeeth - "The believers, in their love, mutual kindness, and close ties, are like one body; when any part complains, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever."

Are we responding with “wakefulness and fever” to the complaints these children have? Is their distress and sorrow keeping us away at night?

What is even more tragic to me is that when you look at the survey closer, you see that it was (as is so often the case) their very own parents who were the abusers.

We must ask ourselves; As a community, do we have an environment in which children who are being abused can come forward and talk about it with an adult they trust? Do we make it clear to our children that this kind of behavior is not ok, and we will believe them if they tell us? Even more basic, do adults in our community feel like they can ask for help and support when they need it, or are they worried about community backlash if they don’t act “appropriately”.

This is a difficult conversation to have even at the best of times. Even if (alhumduliah) your own family is loving and respectful, chances are high that you or your children already know a victim of domestic abuse. How can we strengthen our own families, so that we can support other families in our community when they need it?

As a community, we must be able to talk about these facts openly. We must be willing to acknowledge that these abusive behaviors and other family struggles exist. Islam is perfect, but Muslims are not. And sometimes people do horrible things, things that are wrong by any law. People are people, and people struggle.

SubhanAllah, for many of us, our faith is a critical resource, a pillar of our identity and our definition of community. The friends, family and neighbors that we find in our community are often important aspects of support as we travel through life. As members of our community, we can open conversations about healthy families, we can express concern when we suspect abusive behaviors, we can reach out to our friends and families to gather community to stop family violence.

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Blog List

In The Beginning
Emotional Literacy -- The Key to Preventing Domestic Violence
Feeling Like an Expert?
Forebearance and the Family
The Heartsick Judge
Letter to a Stranger
True Love in Marriage – A Mirage, Why?
Wholeness of Love - The Tranquil Home
Greatness of Women
Stand with Purple
Indian Documentary Film Maker Tackles Child Abuse
Cultural Differences and Child Abuse
Adoption in Islam: Not in my house
The Plight of Abused Muslim Parents
Team Up with Ramadan
Revive the Spirit: Do 4 Things for Aasiya
The Origin of The International Purple Hijab Day
E-Wali--A Good Idea
One Easy Thing to Do to Help Keep Kids Safe
Five Tips on Finances / Your Financial Safety Plan
The Issue of Child Abuse: What We Should Do
It's all about Saving Muslim Lives at Home!
Stop Domestic Violence: Wake Up, Speak Up, Team Up
Please Help Me: The Child Abuse Epidemic
On Shaima Alawadi, family violence, and hate crimes
Hurting Homes
Honor is Gender Neutral
My Khutbah Against Domestic Violence
Abuse of Women is Sadly Endemic
Do we have a Will to End Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence, Islam and Muslim Women
Domestic Violence: A Violation of Islam
Honor and Terror
Muslims Working Against Domestic Violence
Muslim women wage jihad against violence
Imam Zaid Shakir: The Problem of Domestic Abuse
The Wife-Beating issue and its impact on our community
ALLAH Prohibits Domestic Violence
Does the Quran Tolerate Domestic Abuse?
Inviting Muslims to Respond to Domestic Violence
VOICE TO ACTION: Muslims Against Domestic Violence
SISTERS Annual Tea Honors Muslimat Al Nisaa Shelter
Did We ever Bother to know Muzzammil?
Downtown Chicago Event
He Stood Right Here



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Project Sakinah
Dar al Islam
P.O. Box 180
Abiquiu, NM  87510