Papa don't preach

Letters to the Boston editor, July 18, 2008

To me, the two most important lines in the Phoenix editorial “As goes Gloucester?” are: “Was there even a dad?” and “Rather than stick her head in the sand, Mayor Kirk could have issued a wake-up call. Someone should.”

The total “wake-up call” is the promotion of father-less-ness in our great land and the effects it is having on society. There is a never-ending cycle in this country of young girls having babies and raising them without dads, as probably the children of Gloucester will be. Studies have demonstrated that children raised without fathers are far more likely to have early sexual encounters and to get pregnant at earlier ages. That is just one of the symptoms of this societal problem; there are many more.

So what is the answer? Part of it is to create incentives to bring fathers back into kids’ lives. Currently, Title IV-D of the Social Security Act actually has perverse incentives for single motherhood and for the elimination of fathers from children’s lives. Only six states have adopted equal Shared Parenting laws, so that post separation and divorce, parents, mainly fathers, if fit, could have an equal right to raise their children. The legislature in Massachusetts, specifically the Judiciary Committee, once again buried the bill into study, the nice name for killing a bill.

We need to follow the example of Erie County, New York: enact incentive tax credits to help noncustodial parents, and create reunification programs for fathers. We need to change the Title IV-D incentives. We need to adopt equal Shared Parenting laws for fit parents. We need to reform the Family and Probate courts in our state and around the country to lift the barriers to fatherhood. If we start to do this, I can guarantee you, the rates of teen pregnancy will drop. We will no longer have to ask the question, “Was there even a dad?” We do know there is always a dad, we just have to help them to stay around, for their kids’ sake.

Dr. Peter G. Hill

Anyone familiar with Gloucester and the dominant role of the Catholic Church in the community can imagine the pressure the Church put on Principal Sullivan to back off his statement about a pregnancy pact. Discrediting the principal’s statement was critical to turning attention away from the lack of sex education and availability of birth control.

Arnold Koch

Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!
Dan Kennedy begins his Muzzle Awards by stating that Bill O’Reilly is a symbol of everything that’s wrong with the news media today. I think a big problem with the media, and with most Americans, is that they have opinions based on what others tell them rather than what they find out themselves. Thus does Mr. Kennedy then say that Bill O’Reilly “loves nothing more than to tell his guests to ‘shut up.’ ” Except O’Reilly only did that once, seven years ago.

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