I was rather taken by the passage in David Cameron’s speech about how
Children learn their morals, no less than their manners, from their parents. And that means both parents – including fathers. We urgently need to reform the law, and the rules around child maintenance, to compel men to stand by their families.
Quite possibly so, assuming that we can get the Child Support Agency working properly (rather a large assumption). In the ensuing discussion about absent fathers, though, I’ve been rather puzzled by one policy implication, though.
At present, courts don’t tend to take very much notice of references in pleas of mitigation to references to the defendant’s young family and how much he dotes upon his children before they send him to prison. Indeed, only yesterday I was in court when the judge dealt with a young man who was so upset about being parted from his two young children after his wife kicked him out that he approached in the street the man whom he — mistakenly, as it turns out — blamed for his marital breakdown and beat him round the head several times with an iron bar.
This young man will not, obviously, be in a position to play much of a role in his children’s upbringing for several years to come, even if his wife wanted him to. But I find it hard to argue that the courts have done wrong in thus separating the children from their father’s influence.