Paul Cameron: “35% of Foster-Parent Molestations Homosexual”

Jim Burroway

August 10th, 2006

Paul Cameron is at it again. From a press release:

New evidence poses problems for those who think homosexuals should be allowed to serve as foster-parents. 35% of foster-parents who sexually abused their foster-children in the last three years engaged in homosexuality.

From 2003 through 2005, a third of foster-parent molestations of foster-children were homosexual. That’s the official tally from two states — Illinois and Minnesota — that permit homosexual foster-parents. For the approximately 30,000 children/year in foster-care at some point in the two states:

—12 foster mothers sexually abused their charges: 9 (75%) assaulted foster-daughters, 3 (25%) raped foster-sons.

—28 foster-fathers sexually abused their charges: 23 (82%) assaulted foster-daughters, 5 (18%) raped foster-sons.

A similar claim sparked a firestorm in April, 2005 when Cathie Adams, the president of Texas Eagle Forum repeated Cameron’s statistic live on CNN. The only difference between today’s statistics and last year’s is that Paul Cameron has added data from Minnesota. But when Carl Bialik, the “Numbers Guy” at the Wall Street Journal — which can hardly be accused of being a liberal rag — looked into the claims last year, he found the evidence very unconvincing. Since Cameron’s method for generating his statistics are unchanged from last year, Mr. Bialik’s criticisms still apply:

There were 270 reports, and 34% of those were same-sex in nature: committed by a male adult against a male child, or a female adult against a female child. Dr. Cameron called those homosexual acts of abuse, and, citing several studies, including a joint report by the University of Michigan and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concluded that gays make up between 1% and 3% of the adult U.S. population. “Thus, homosexual practitioners were proportionately more apt to sexually abuse foster or adoptive children,” Dr. Cameron wrote.

This required several leaps of logic, some of which I’ll discuss later. The biggest is that Dr. Cameron had no data about the makeup of homes in which the Illinois children were abused; indeed, a state DCFS spokeswoman told me the agency doesn’t record whether households are same-sex. It’s possible that much of what Dr. Cameron calls homosexual abuse occurred in what would be considered heterosexual homes.

And he goes further:

Besides his lack of data about same-sex couples in Illinois, researchers pointed out Dr. Cameron’s flawed assumption that the gender of pedophiles’ victims correlates to adult sexual attraction; that he applied nationwide data on homosexuality to a predominantly Chicago-based population of foster homes; and that he cited many of his own studies, including two previous ones that attempted to calculate the proportion of sexual abuse that is same-sex based on small sample sizes of six and 25 cases of abuse, respectively.

“The paper is not written as a competent research paper,” said Paul Velleman, associate professor of social statistics at Cornell University. “This is a pretty lightweight study,” said Kenneth Land, professor of sociology at Duke University and chair of the American Statistical Association’s mathematical sociology section.

Walter Schumm, professor of family studies at Kansas State, once published a paper responding to Dr. Cameron’s critics, but in this case he questioned Dr. Cameron’s conclusion that same-sex couples pose a special threat to children. “Since the state didn’t provide him with any data on whether parents were heterosexual or gay, it’s hard to make any definitive statements other than that much of the abuse seems to be same-gendered,” Dr. Schumm said. “For all we know, that could all be by heterosexual parents.”

That last point by Dr. Schumm is very significant. Up until then, he had been a staunch defender of Cameron’s work.

Cameron concludes this press release saying:

The study from data provided by the IL Dept Children & Family Services and MN Dept of Human Services appears in a rebuttal to gay marriage in the August, 2006 issue of Pediatrics on-line http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/eletters/118/1/349.

If you click on that link, you will see that the rebuttal, by Kirk Cameron, Paul’s son, is not peer-reviewed, nor does it even appear in the journal itself. It is part of an online discussion forum they call a “Post-Publication Peer Review,” which, in the broad scheme of things, doesn’t have much standing as far as professional publication is concerned. At best, it’s an online letter to the editor. They didn’t even bother to pay the fees to have it published in the vanity journal Psychological Reports.

By twisting official statistics, and making assumptions that men who molest boys and women who molest girls are among the “2-3%” of the openly gay population, Cameron seeks to perpetuate the lie that gays and lesbians are much more likely to molest children. But if you want to know the real truth behind statistics like these, read our report, Testing the Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?.

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