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September 16, 2007

Babysnatchers

Interesting.

A dramatic rise in the number of newborn babies seized by social workers for forced adoption has failed to reduce the murder rate among babies.

Despite the action by social services, intended to protect children at high risk, the number of deaths has actually grown.

Critics claimed that the figures showed that social workers were tearing apart innocent families, while failing to protect babies at the greatest risk.

They might actually have a point there:

In 1995, when 540 newborns were removed for adoption, there were 17 murders in which the victim was less than a year old. A decade later, in 2005/6, 1,400 were taken, yet the murder total rose to 24.

"Do something" is a very powerful political driving force. Do the right thing less so.

September 16, 2007 in Your Tax Money at Work | Permalink

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Comments

It's a daft use of statistics - a sample where n=17 or n=24 out of c.1 million tells you absolutely nothing (and equally, if n had fallen to 10 that would tell us nothing either).

If the point of this policy is to reduce the number of murders of newborns, it's a stupid policy because that number is already trivially low. But if the point of the policy is to reduce the incidence of abusive parenting more generally, then this data tells us nothing about whether it's succeeding or failing.

Posted by: john b | Sep 16, 2007 10:53:18 AM

Can we take away from this that if those social workers would just flat-out kill the appropriate number right away--they could just dispense with the bother and fuss of commandeering the rest? Sounds like a winner to me!

Posted by: gene berman | Sep 16, 2007 12:40:22 PM

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