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Children without fathers fall into crime

By Miranda La Rose Monday, June 16 2014

Finding ways and means to help fathers meet their responsibilities to their families and communities is a challenge that faces the nation as more female-headed single-parent households increase, according to Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh.

Urging all fathers “to be a father who is present and dedicated to his children’s upbringing,” Gopeesingh said, “Sadly, too many fathers are missing from too many of their children’s lives, and the social consequence of this absenteeism is great.”

Speaking on Saturday at the graduation ceremony of the Swimming for Success programme in San Juan, he said, “We are fully aware that when fathers abandon their responsibilities to their children, they are greatly harmed.”

Wide ranging international studies and statistics, he said, “show that children who grow up without a father are more likely to live in poverty, become school delinquents, join gangs, fall into a life of crime or substance abuse or become teenaged parents themselves.”

Paying tribute to the programme’s sponsor, promoter and director of Caribbean Prestige Foundation, William Munro, Gopeesingh described him as an exemplary father to the children of his community.

Munro started the programme in August 2011 which targets at risk young people in the San Juan/Santa Cruz area whose lives are affected by criminality and general poverty. It aims at fostering among them discipline, team work, other general life training and swimming skills.

A father, biological or adopted, Gopeesingh said, “as is the case with Mr Munro and you children here, is a blessed gift from God.”

Acknowledging the important role fathers play in families and nation through their strength, love, and commitment, he said, “a father’s words and actions are critical in shaping the character of his children.”

A father’s love, he said, “helps teach them right from wrong, explains to them the consequences of bad decisions, and strengthens them with encouragement.”

A father’s role, he said, is crucial to the family and there is no institution more vital to the nation’s survival than that of the family.

He acknowledged the fact that single mothers are fast becoming the only caregivers to their families, and absent fathers are becoming more of the norm rather than an aberration.

Noting that he was at the graduation ceremony of the first cycle of the programme and was now witnessing the seventh batch graduating, Gopeesingh said the programme was being conducted at a time when crime and other social ills threaten to sway youths from the path of positive growth. He urged the young people to get involved in sporting activities to learn values of determination and discipline for their personal development and the nation.

Research shows, he said, that more than 30 million children and adolescents in the United States participate in group or individual sports. In addition to being a source of just plain fun, he said sports promote healthy development in many areas with positive effects that last into adulthood.

Apart from physical development, he said sports help in cognitive and academic development, as well as psychological, social, and character development, and reduceteenage pregnancy among female athletes.

Children who do sports get better grades often in the semester that they play sports, he said, while adolescents have higher education and occupational outcomes. Among lower and middle income adolescent athletes, they are more likely to finish high school and college.

Young people who participate in sports, he said, have higher self-esteem, less anxiety and depression, are less likely to consider suicide, engage in less risky behaviour, such as sex and drugs as adults, and feel better about their physical and social selves.

Among benefits for girls, he noted a nationwide survey of adolescents in the United States revealed that compared to female non-athletes, female athletes were less than half as likely to get pregnant, had their first intercourse later in adolescence and had fewer sex partners.

Retrospective data from successful women, he said, “indicates that women who participated in sports stated they learned how to be authoritative, work on teams, set individual and team goals, and to be mentally tough.”

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