Study shows Scottish dads airbrushed out of family services’ publicity

25 June 2014

In January the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee launched an enquiry into the current provision of services and support groups for fathers; societal attitudes towards lone / unmarried fathers; and parental rights and responsibilities for fathers.

Gary Clapton of University of Edinburgh was asked to present his research to the Committee in March.  The research studied publicity about services for parents and children (web-based, booklets and leaflets etc) and the way that fathers, when depicted, are portrayed.

Gary’s research shows that in crucial areas of services’ publicity, images of fathers are absent and families are described as such but pictured as without a father. Elsewhere, when fathers are mentioned, e.g. in case examples, they are always described in negative terms such as alcoholic or abusive.  Gary also looked at the images that were called up when the word ‘parent’ was entered into Council services website search facilities and, unsurprisingly, the vast majority of images across education and social services, showed only women.

West Dunbartonshire fostering leafletGary looked through the various websites of Government, the NHS, councils and third sector agencies and found this treatment of fathers fairly consistent.

Gary made the point to the Committee that this is as much a treatment of mothers as it is fathers, conveying the message that children’s health and well-being is mothers’ sole responsibility.  The research was congratulated by members of the Committee and its report is awaited.

You can view Gary’s presentation here.

The Fatherhood Institute’s #DadsExcluded campaign seeks to highlight and, where possible, challenge, cases of dads being ignored, excluded or marginalised. Find out more here and via the Twitter hashtag #DadsExcluded.


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