A major new report on Britain's most dysfunctional families commissioned by the British Government in the aftermath of last year’s riots makes for disturbing reading but much of it is depressingly familiar.
Quite apart from the accounts of serial physical and sexual abuse, it's the casual neglect of children and the failure of mothers to protect their children from such abuse, for fear of losing their new “boyfriends” that is shocking.
To cite just one particularly dramatic example, one mother mentioned in the study “reported that her son slept with a knife under his pillow for fear of his stepfather”.
But we know already, from US Government figures, that children who live with their mother and her boyfriend are 11 times more likely to be physically or sexually abused than those raised by their married, biological parents.
We should really be more shocked, but it seems that there are large parts of our academic, media and political establishments who are determined that we shouldn't be shocked or disturbed.
We are told instead that the family is merely ‘changing’, not breaking down, and that we ought to celebrate diversity.
But this diversity in fact means more and more children growing up without the benefit of their own two married parents and more and more children being exposed to situations where abuse is more likely.
The latest Census shows that 28 percent of Irish children are now being raised outside marriage. That amounts to 456,661 children, nearly half a million, and 28pc is quite a high percentage compared to other OECD countries.
But perhaps the most disturbing part of the report by Louise Casey is the strong sense that the dysfunction in the families she describes is so deeply rooted that it cannot be meaningfully tackled. The report describes pathologies, such as casual violence, sexual abuse and repeated anti-social behaviour, which are barely recognised as abnormal, never mind severely damaging, by those engaged in them.
Indeed many seem to regard themselves as the victims of the system.
In one sense, they are victims, not of a social care system in no real position to address their problems, but of a culture which radically overemphasises personal freedom, especially in the sexual sphere, and sold the lie that personal commitment and biological ties were secondary to “self-actualisation”.
As the evidence rolled in that this wasn't true, our media, political, academic and cultural elites doubled down on the delusion, which had a disproportionate impact on the poor, who actually stand in far greater need of the social capital generated by stable families.
All the while, many of those refusing to acknowledge the damage done, especially to children in poor families, by this radical ethos, were shielded from its worst excesses by their own relative wealth and by the fact that they themselves generally get married before they have kids and are more likely to stay married than those with fewer advantages.
Casey's report is really an indictment of the impact of the pursuit of personal freedom at the expense of commitment, especially to children, which is probably why some people would undoubtedly prefer to pretend its findings are untrue.