Ultimately, it’s our problem

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April 13, 2012

Dear Sir,

Have you seen the documentary ‘Poverty in Paradise, The Price We Pay? It’s a presentation of The Bermuda Coalition for Children. Everyone in Bermuda should see this film. I would wager that there are people who have lived in Bermuda all their life and have no idea of how much real poverty exists in Bermuda. Single mothers and their children are the major victims.

There are many reasons why and how these women find themselves in such a place and the documentary highlight’s quite a few of them, however, to me, there was one obvious question: Where are the men that fathered these children? Virtually every one of these women caught in this spiral of poverty and debt, was a single mother and the father(s) of the child(ren) was nowhere to be seen. There are women being imprisoned for debt, who are living hand to mouth in abject poverty and their children are suffering, yet they are owed thousands by the father’s of their children. In spite of that, the courts are either unwilling or incapable of getting these pathetic excuses for men to support their children. I am not talking about those men who are withholding child support because they cannot get access to their children, I am talking to the men who father children who don’t want access to their children and tragically, there are a lot of them.

The documentary, probably accurately, highlights the connection between poverty and lack of paternal parental support, as being one of the major reasons for the crime, drugs, violence and gang culture that now pervades our society. Women who have no choice but to work two and three jobs just to put food on the table, do not have the time to parent a child properly, often they are no more than children themselves. With no father in the picture to share the parenting load, the child is left to its own devices, with little or no supervision and the net result of that neglect is seen sitting on the walls and hanging out on the streets, badly educated, jobless, unmotivated and ripe to continue the cycle.

There are solutions out there, but all seem to put the onus entirely on the Mother. What about the fathers? The ‘Deadbeat Father’ is an issue that has to be dealt with. One way is for the courts to fully and completely enact the laws that would ensure that these men pay child support for their children. The laws must be in place, but the judges and the legal system seem to be so pathetically bad in actually making these men pay. There are hundreds of men out there who delinquent in their financial obligations and they are getting away with it. It seems to be just accepted as the norm that men in our society can father children and not be responsible for them either physically or financially. They are basically sperm donors. There needs to be a drastic improvement with enacting the laws that are currently in place that will help these women and their children get off the poverty spiral. The Coalition for Children has made recommendations that these delinquent fathers should be prohibited from re-licensing their cars and having their passports renewed. This would be a good start (if ever enacted) and would demonstrate that this Government is supportive of women, and is supportive of their plight, but much more needs to be done.

Ultimately, the cost of all this is borne by you and me, we are the charitable giver and the taxpayer. In addition to the various charities, the taxpayer is paying for the financial assistance, housing and healthcare that is provided to them and if these poor women lose their children because they cannot support them, then the state picks up the tab. The foster care, the social workers, the healthcare costs, the financial aid is all paid for by the Government. This ultimately is our problem and we have to turn the tide for these deadbeat fathers being allowed to get away with it. How can we help? Watch the documentary ‘Poverty in Paradise, The Price We Pay,” so you understand how massive a problem this really is. Talk to your MP, talk to the Bermuda Coalition for Children, volunteer, donate food to the food banks, donate money, lobby the Government Minister — Glenn Blakeney, Minister of Youth, Families and Sports. The DVD can be rented or ask The Bermuda Coalition for Children to make a presentation at your place of work like we did. It will open your eyes.

A SOUSA

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Published Apr 17, 2012 at 8:26 am (Updated Apr 17, 2012 at 8:25 am)

Ultimately, it’s our problem

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