‘Disposable dads’ causing crisis in families as more boys aged 15 have a smartphone than live with their father

Posted on July 17, 2014. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation | Tags: , , |


Teenagers are more likely to own a smartphone than live with their fathers, according to a study.

It predicted that almost half of the children sitting their GCSE exams in 2020 will come from a broken home.

In a startling portrait of ‘broken Britain’, the Centre for Social Justice warned that a culture of ‘disposable dads’ had developed in poorer parts of the UK.

Dr Samantha Callan, David Cameron’s former family policy adviser, who co-wrote the report, said that young people should be encouraged to aspire to have children in wedlock.

Referring to a popular hit single, she added: ‘As Beyonce Knowles says in her song, “If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it”.

’The CSJ, an independent think-tank founded by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, warned that the Government was ‘sleepwalking into a family breakdown crisis’.

It claimed broken families were costing the taxpayer nearly £50billion a year, through welfare payments for single mothers and the additional strain on the criminal justice system, because the children of lone parents are more likely to end up in court and jail.

The report said fathers who did not live with their children should be given financial incentives to return to the family home.

They should also have the legal right to be named on their child’s birth certificate, it added. Currently, an unmarried father  cannot register his name unless the mother of his child agrees.

Dr Callan called for the Prime Minister to ‘back marriage with money’ and double the transferable tax allowance for married couples to £2,000.

Criticising Mr Cameron, she said: ‘Despite his genuine resolve, when it comes to the most pressing family policy priority of improving stability there is very little to show from that rightly ambitious rhetoric.’

The study found that while 62 per cent of 15-year-olds own a smartphone, only 57 per cent live with their fathers.

Tory MP Andrew Selous said: ‘It’s a very alarming and shocking statistic and a call to action to put strengthening family stability much higher up the political agenda.’

The report warned that the number of single-parent families had risen by 20,000 a year between 2010 and 2013.

It said 48 per cent of children aged five and under in the poorest 20 per cent of families were now from broken homes. The CSJ also found more than 1million children had lost contact with their grandparents as a result of separation or divorce.

The CSJ was set up by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who has argued marriage helps to prevent family breakdown

Christian Guy, the CSJ’s director, told The Sunday Times: ‘For too long family breakdown has gone unchallenged despite the devastating impact it has on adults, children and communities.’ Fiona Weir, chief executive of Gingerbread, the charity that supports single parents, said: ‘Most single parents are doing a good job.

‘Government spending should be focused on policies that make a real difference for families of all shapes and sizes.’

The CSJ predicted that by next year there will be 2million single-parent families.

It found that in the poorest neighbourhoods in the UK, three-quarters of families have a lone parent.

The Government will introduce a marriage tax allowance from next year, in an attempt to recognise the importance of the institution. It means that where one person in a marriage does not use their full income tax allowance, currently set at £10,000, they could transfer up to £1,000 to their partner, helping to reduce their tax bill by as much as £200 a year.

However, the CSJ says the Government should go further, and double the £1,000 transferable allowance to £2,000, resulting in a £400 tax benefit.

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Are we sleepwalking into a culture of disposable dads?

Posted on July 17, 2014. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation | Tags: , |

The Telegraph by Theo Merz

The Breakthrough Britain 2015 study found that just 57 per cent of teenage boys were currently living with their father. It predicted that by 2020 almost half of pupils sitting their GCSEs would come from a single parent families.

Children whose parents had separated were significantly more likely to fail at school, have low self esteem, struggle with peer relationships and have behavioural difficulties, anxiety or depression, the report suggested.

“For too long family breakdown in this country has gone unchallenged – despite the devastating impact it has on adults, children and communities,” said Christian Guy, director of the Centre for Social Justice, the think-tank that carried out the study.

Dr Samantha Callan, one of the report’s co-authors, said the “social norm” of having children outside marriage needed to change in order to reverse the growing number of families without fathers.

“There’s a prevailing view in society that when things don’t go well in a relationship, it means the end is near,” she said. “But all relationships come under pressure; you need to have made a commitment like marriage so you know you’re not going to bail.”

The report suggests registry office fees should be scrapped for couples who attend “marriage preparation courses” and that further tax benefits should be available to married couples.

“We’re not talking about bribing people to get married, “ Dr Callan said. “This is a very important cultural issue, there are no silver bullets here. The Government wants to avoid doing things that makes them look like they’re getting involved with people’s personal lives, but this isn’t the nanny state – it’s the canny state.

“Family breakdown is one of the fastest routes into poverty and drawing benefits. Many people can stand alone as a couple but when they split up they find they just can’t do it, which obviously has an impact on children too.”

Family breakdown costs the country £50bn a year through welfare payments and extra strain on the justice system, the authors of the study estimate.

The report also recommends the setting up of “family hubs” to provide relationship support for struggling parents, as well as giving unmarried fathers the right to be named on the birth certificate of their child even if the mother objects.

Glen Poole, the author of Equality For Men, welcomed the report but said that to prevent the rise of “disposable dads” more needed to be done to encourage fathers to stay involved in childcare after separation.

“It’s one thing to try to reduce the number of couples who split up, but you also have to be pragmatic and accept that in some cases, unfortunately, that is going to happen,” he said. “What you have to ask then, is: how do you make it the norm that men stay involved in childcare?”

“In Sweden they have the same separation rate as we do, but separated fathers there are three times as likely to share childcare than separated dads in the UK. It’s because there’s a culture of dads being involved – they have the same parental leave from work and equal rights when it comes to children.”

He added that growing up without a same-sex role model was one of the “major disadvantages” faced by young men when compared to women.

“It’s crucially important that boys have male role models around them,” Poole said. “Even if they’re not positive role models, at least then they can decide for themselves, ‘oh, I don’t want to be like him’.”

David Bartlett of the Fatherhood Institute, a think-tank and charity which promotes children’s relationships with fathers and father figures, agreed that the focus should be on encouraging fathers to share childcare rather than on financial incentives for couples to get or remain married.

“What children need is a close, positive, on-going stable relationship with fathers and father figures,” Bartlett said. “That’s irrespective of whether they are married to or even living in the same household as the mother.

“Medical professionals should talk to new parents about sharing childcare right from the start. We need to make sure both parents are involved at all stages rather than giving people a bit of money to stay married.”

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