‘Fatherlessness’ and the August riots: our response

26 August 2011

Recent scenes of unrest on the streets of English cities have generated concern and a great deal of debate about the behaviour of some of the teenagers and young adults who took part. We know that the root causes of this behaviour are complex and interlinked, and that time and resources may need to be invested in understanding and resolving them. The Prime Minister suggested that ‘fatherlessness’ may be to blame for some of what took place.

 What have fathers got to do with it?

Our existing research shows that positively involved fathers can play a huge role in bringing up children and young people who are more likely to leave school with qualifications and employment prospects – and less likely to get into trouble with the law. Support for fathers to become and stay involved, in positive ways, in their children’s lives – whether they live with them full-time or not – is vital for the development of future generations of young people who have hope for the future, good levels of self esteem and the abilities and skills to take the opportunities that are available.

What is the Fatherhood Institute doing?

We continue to lobby for a society that gives all children a strong and positive relationship with their father and any father-figures from the earliest days and hours of their lives; supports both mothers and fathers as earners and carers; and prepares boys and girls for a future shared role in caring for children.

Specifically in the light of recent events, we are seeking funds to research the links between fatherhood and the August riots in three respects:

  • To explore the family background of people who have been convicted of offences during the riots
  • To look at how the law deals with the parents of those rioters who are under 18 – for example, are fathers (including non-resident fathers) being held to account for their children’s behaviour as well as mothers?
  • To think about what projects in the UK and elsewhere have had success in bringing fathers back into the lives of their children, and working with them to optimise their involvement. How well or badly are fathers being addressed in family support programmes?

What do you think?

Post a comment below to tell everyone how fathers in your area responded to the riots – or more generally how they respond to antisocial behaviour or the involvement of local children in, for instance, drugs misuse. Or why not head over to Dads Included and start or contribute to a forum discussion there?

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