Thursday, December 18, 2008
This is a letter to the editor in Boston, MA but except for the reference to specific USA laws the story is the same all over in English speaking democracies including Canada. Having no dad may well equal increases in youth gang crime as children look to their peers for role models of the wrong kind. The forgotten father figure Wednesday Dec 17, 2008
I read with interest the December 11th South End News letter to the editor by Sal Giarratani, "Time for action, not words."
I too read the recently released Governor’s Anti-Crime Council Report. Both Mr. Giarratani and the report missed, or omitted, one very key aspect. This is that the vast majority of gang members and kids who commit street crimes and crime in general are raised without dads in the home.
We have gone from a nation in the 1960s, according to the CDC, where 9% of kids were raised with dads not in the home, to over 28%, a tripling, some 20 million kids today, without a dad in the home.
If we truly want to do something about gang violence and youth violence, it is time to reverse the crazy incentives that have thrown more and more fathers out of kids’ lives.
Here is what needs to be done, in my opinion.
1.Pass Equal Shared Parenting legislation for fit parents and do it this legislative year.
2. Reform the Massachusetts Family and Probate Courts and make it harder for a father to be relegated to a visitor. Fathers are not visitors, they are parents. Kids need their dads too.
3. Reform Title IV (d) of the Federal Social Security Act and remove the perverse incentives that throw dads out of the house.
4. Reform the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA) and make it gender neutral. Enforce due process laws. Make false accusations a crime.
5. Reform the Crime Bill to enforce due process laws. Make sure mandatory arrest laws are applied equally to men and women.
6. Do not hand out restraining orders without an evidentiary hearing. Remove the check box off the restraining order form for contact with children. Any restraining order that prevents contact with one’s children must go through, at a minimum, an evidentiary hearing, but even more important, a jury trial by your peers. It is harder to fire an employee in a large company than it is to remove a parent, especially a father, from a child’s life.
The bottom line: dads, fathers do matter. If we want to get to the root of gang and teen violence, we have to find a way to let a dad be a dad and be involved in his kids’ lives. Putting bandaids to the problem will never work. Having a dad in one’s life will.
Dr. Peter G. Hill
304 Columbus Avenue
Posted by Michael J. Murphy at Thursday, December 18, 2008