Comments: Wars, Prisoners, and Soldiers

Stories like the one you linked to are prime examples of sloppy media reporting -

I don't assume someone in the military is automatically more likely to turn into a child abuser. I'm more inclined to wonder if the increased abuse isn't, instead, a factor of the percentage of "displaced" and otherwise dysfunctional recruits the military accepts. There are a lot of problems around maintaining a huge standing army, especially in today's world.

There are several problems with the story:

1) More military kids die of child abuse..or at twice the average. That is simply NOT true. Unless, of course, they mean, on average, in two NC counties, for the period 1985-2000 (HMM..does that appear in the headline). The overall rate for DoD child homicides due to abuse is less than for the population as a whole. (WOW - How hard would that have been more any of the "reporters" who picked up this story to research?). I suspect I can go to any large company (WalMart, etc.) or geographic region and come up with a similar, misleading, set of statistics and generalize it to an entire group.

2) Note the article mentions both counties have higher averages than the state (but don't cite the number).. Wonder why? Probably because the number for Cumberland county is only slightly below Ft. Bragg/Pope AFB - meaning, at best, there is an issue not only at the military bases, but in those geographic regions writ large.

3) The article fails to mention the number from the study group does not match the official list from DoD records; in fact, the difference sends the military bases below the county averages. Who's right? I don't know - may depend on how each side counted - but the fact is not listed in the study.

4) The article fails to distinguish between whether the military member or the spouse (or both) were responsible. This fact is important if we're going to discuss "military" culture/recruiting as a factor. Also, what is left undiscussed is the Army units at Ft. Bragg underwent two long deployments (Panama/Desert Storm) during the period. Finally, the article fails to mention whether the study attempted to control for various factors between the communities.

Posted by Col Steve at May 23, 2005 11:30 PM