Categorized | National News

60% Of Children Born Out Of Wedlock

More than half of Bahamian children are being born outside the marriage, according to Social Services Minister Melanie Griffin.

In her first public appearance as the new minister, Mrs. Griffin said one major change impacting the family is the increasing number of single parent homes and children being born to single mothers.

“Statistics indicate that up to the 1960s only 30 per cent of children were born out of wedlock and 70 per cent were born to married couples,” she said.

“Today, these numbers are reversed. More than 60 per cent of all children are now born out of wedlock. I believe that this number is too high and we must ask ourselves the questions, why it is so and what do we have to do to reverse it?”

Mrs. Griffin said in the past, single mothers had the support of extended families, so although children did not have a father in the home they had older cousins, uncles and grandparents to watch over and care for them.

“Regretfully, with the collapse of the extended family, this is no longer the case and children are often left on their own to do as they wish while their mothers seek to earn a living,” she said.

“Children especially boys need a positive male role model in their lives. I note that one of the topics for discussion is ‘Father Hunger.’ I expect that this will provide some practical strategies as to how we can fill the void in the lives of children when a father is not fulfilling his responsibility.”

She continued, “Then there is the issue of anger and violence in the family, which is taking a heavy toll on the family and the society as a whole. It seems that we are no longer able to sit down and discuss problems in a calm rational way and arrive at a compromise that is in the best interest of all.”

A significant portion of the government’s Speech from the Throne was dedicated to curbing the high level of crime in the country. But, according to a leading social activist that cannot happen unless Bahamian families are rebuilt like the ones in the past.

Director of the Bahamas Crisis Centre, Dr. Sandra Dean-Patterson told officials gathered at the Ministry of Social Services’ ‘Save The Family’ workshop yesterday that more needs to be done to rebuild the family. She said there is “no room to give up.”

“What we know is one of the deep roots of crime is what happens in the family,” she said. “If you have a dysfunctional or unhealthy family, your citizens are not socialised properly to be the kinds of citizens that you want and they will be at risk of becoming criminals. We need to understand how some criminals become so violent and do all that we can as the gatekeepers to help them and help young families.”

“I hope at the end of this, we will have all the resolutions and we will submit them to the minister who is ready to work and can implement them into the government’s plan.”

Meantime, Minister Griffin explained that the new government plans to do all it can to save families through the implementation of a number of initiatives and expanding the role of Social Services to make it a major factor in social development.

“We will seek to do so in partnership with organisations like the Crisis Centre and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese, Family Life Ministries and other faith-based and civic organisations,” Mrs. Griffin said.

“A major thrust will be ongoing opportunities for public education. Information such as what will be imparted today must be shared at the community level. I therefore put our speakers on notice that they should expect to be called upon more frequently. We are in a fight to save our families, our communities and our country from the scourges of anger and violence that beset us. It is a fight that we cannot afford to lose.”

The half-day workshop was held in collaboration with the Crisis Centre and the Catholic Archdiocese of Nassau yesterday at Emmaus Centre.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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