Remember the great reefer madness scares in the late 20th Century? Maybe marijuana itself wasn’t so bad, it was said, but it’s a gateway drug!
Now that people have finally caught on that much of what family policing agencies (a more accurate term than “child protective services” agencies) do is confuse poverty with neglect, the child welfare establishment has come up with a similar excuse to justify all that surveillance of impoverished families and removal of their children: Neglect, they suggest, is a gateway allegation. And that’s even worse. Because while a gateway drug, it was said, might lead people to worse in the future, a gateway allegation is a claim that something far worse has already happened to innocent children.
Making that argument requires taking data out of context — either by presenting numbers without ratios or ratios without numbers.
The out-of-context data make for good sound bites. Understanding why they’re so misleading requires a trip into the weeds. …