Friday, February 23, 2007

Stop bashing Fathers!

Much has been made of the Conservative party's line on family breakdown, youth crime and social justice.

The way the media reports it, and some of the language used in this article on the Conservative party website (here), is unfortunate in that it seems to lay the blame for family breakup solely on fathers. This is not the case. Family breakdown can be caused by either partner. Furthermore fathers who have left, or possibly been forced out of the family home can be denied access to their children by mothers, sometimes in the face of court orders requiring that the mother allow access.

That said what we do need to be concerned about is the number of family breakdowns and preventing where possible, that happening. In the past we as a society and indeed the family courts have worked on the basis that children need their mother. In fact there is increasing evidence that children also need their father. The only way to achieve both is of course to keep the family together.

The Centre for Social Justice has just published an interesting report on family breakdown and it's links to social dysfunction, and rather more interestingly observations on schemes in other countries to tackle family breakdown. The report is here.

We do need to make it clear that marriage is the best environment in which to bring up children. We need to support marriage in all sorts of ways. It is clear from Iain Duncan Smith's report that there are in fact things which government can and should do both to encourage marriage and to keep marriages together happily.

The conclusion of the report is also interesting. It says:
Punitive measures to curb anti-social behaviour and youth crime will, like purely economic measures to combat poverty, fail to address the cultural drivers of the problems. Family circumstances in general and family breakdown in particular have tended to be neglected dimensions in policy initiatives which are preventative in their focus. We need policies which implicitly assume the worth of long term domestic stability and which therefore support and encourage healthy marriage as the relationship most likely to deliver that social good. We are not treating marriage like a magic bullet: the Social Justice Policy Group is tackling debt, educational failure, addiction and economic dependency, all of which lead to family breakdown, and establish the cycle of deprivation.

We believe that unless we try now to understand how important stable families are to reducing crime and particularly youth crime, we risk making young people the target. It is the child who grows up in a broken home with an absent father involved in crime who is most likely to commit crime themselves - and become a father himself at a very young age. Unchecked, the cycle looks set to continue and to multiply in its effects. Just threatening to lock young people up will not break the cycle. Of course criminals need to face penalties for their actions but we desperately need to deal with the reasons why they are committing crime in the first place. Otherwise we move from being "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" to being "tough on headlines, soft on the causes of the headline."

For further articles on family police see here.

1 comment:

Farid said...

I'm with you 100%. Try being a father - or a conservative - in the United States. Though I live in Idaho (the most conservative state in the union), the schools, the politicians, even the courts sway left and often mock our traditional family values.

Though I'm 50, I am a senior in a university College of Education, and an currently doing my student teaching. We are given a long list of words and phrases we cannot say while teaching. If a liberal could make a list of all the verbs and adjectives that explain the conservative point of view, they would have been on that list. Abortion and gay rights? Talk about them. Prayer and traditional families? Don't even mention them.

The U.S. is one of the most conservative nations on Earth, yet to admit being conservative draws ridicule; that is, 20% of the population make fun of the other 80% because they are out of step.

What?

Sigh .....