FLDS and Arithmetic: Part II
Some weeks ago, the Child Protective Service announced an increase in the number of minors in their custody and explained it as due to their having concluded that some of the people they had thought were adults were actually minors; there was no explanation of the basis for that conclusion. My memory is that the number given was in the twenties; one webbed source says 25 but I have not yet checked back over the old news stories to be sure.
A few days later, they announced that out of 53 girls aged 14-17 in their custody, 31 either were pregnant or were mothers. Some versions of the story included a separate number for the ones who were pregnant--two. CNN gave that number in its initial story then removed it without, so far as I could see, any explanation. On the basis of those figures, I calculated that the number pregnant was far below what the average would have had to be for that many to be mothers, and concluded that some of the figures were probably bogus.
At some point thereafter, the CPS announced that two of the 31 were sufficiently pregnant so that they would shortly be having their babies in CPS custody. The babies were born. The CPS then announced that it had discovered that both of the "minors" were in fact adults, one of them 22. According to various news stories, the latter had a birth certificate which she claimed to have shown the authorities early on. That claim is consistent with an earlier news story to the effect that the CPS was refusing to accept birth certificates as evidence of age. It was on the basis of that that I concluded that the CPS had to be deliberately lying, since they were making statements about the ages of women in their custody without having any way of knowing how old the women actually were. At that point their count of pregnant minors appeared to be down to zero.
The news stories also reported that 24 more of the women who were supposed to be 14-17 claimed to be adults. A later story reported that the CPS had conceded that at least 15 of its 31 "minor mothers or pregnant" were in fact adults. My guess is that that included the two who had had their babies.
Finally, we have one more fact. The Texas appeals court, in finding the seizure of the children to be entirely unjustified, reported that the CPS had actually identified five women who were or had been pregnant and were asserted to be minors--presumably that meant "still asserted."
Now for a little arithmetic.
The CPS started out with 5 young women aged 14-17 who they believed either were mothers or were pregnant—the five counted by the appeals court. That was not a very impressive number if they wanted to justify taking 400+ children away from their parents. So they selected 26 of the youngest looking mothers among the adults—readily available to them since the mothers were trying to stay close to their children—and reclassified them as minors, getting a total of 31.
That fits the total of 26 women who claim to be adults—15 of whom so far the CPS has admitted are adults. It's one higher than the figure I saw for the number reclassified as adults.
One possibility is that they reclassified 25 adults and, in addition, one of the women they initially thought was a minor was in fact an adult. That gets the number of "pregnant or mothers" down to 30, however.
We might eliminate that anomaly with additional detail I have not yet mentioned—a 14 year old girl who apparently was included in the count of "pregnant or mothers" but who the CPS, according to a news story, has now conceded is neither. If they initially misidentified her—perhaps someone thought she looked pregnant, or perhaps she had refused to take a pregnancy exam—that would give them a starting number of six, one a mistake, bringing the total back up to 31.
The numbers fit together pretty well, and are at least consistent with my earlier conjecture, that the CPS vastly exaggerated the number of minors who had been pregnant in order to justify its actions. What else might the number tell us?
If my calculations are correct, there were actually about 27 (53-26) women age 14-17 among those seized in the raid. Five of them had at some point had children, none were pregnant. According to the appeals court, four of them are 17 (or were when seized), 1 sixteen. They were alleged to have become pregnant at age 15 or 16.
According to one webbed source, the rate of teen birth for girls aged 15-19, was about 10% in Texas in 2000. Assume that the same figure holds for ages 14-17. If the 27 young women were evenly distributed by age, then on average each had spent two years in the 14-17 year range. If their pregnancy rate was average for Texas, about 20% of them should have gotten pregnant, for a total of of about five and a half--slightly more than actually did.
The calculation is probably a bit high, since I have assumed that pregnancy rates were constant over the range 14-19 and they almost certainly increase with age. Also, I've seen a lower figure for the pregnancy rate from another source, possibly for a different year. But my numbers are enough to suggest that the rate of teen pregnancies in the FLDS population was not strikingly out of line with that for Texas in general.
Finally, consider the question of the ratio of young men to young women. Various people commenting on my posts argued that the teen women greatly outnumbered the teen men, providing evidence that boys were being driven out in order to leave more wives for the older men. That ratio was calculated, however, using the CPS claim about how many young women there were aged 14-17, a claim we now know was false. If we accept the estimates I have just offered, the real number was about half as large--27 rather than 53. I haven't seen any figures on the number of males age 14-17 in CPS custody to compare with that.