Fathers important, says Baby P report

Fathers have a crucial role to play in protecting their children from abuse, says Lord Laming in a report prompted by the tragic death of Baby P.

Lord Laming, former Chief Inspector of Social Services, was tasked with reviewing child protection standards after the 17-month-old died at the hands of his abusive mother and her boyfriend.

In his report Lord Laming writes: “Particular mention should be made of the part to be played by fathers, not least as good role models.”

He adds: “I believe the really important thing is that parenthood should be seen to be a lifetime commitment.”

Current Government policy on marriage has been heavily criticised in recent months.

The Royal College of Economics says the tax system creates a financial incentive for parents to split, by significantly disadvantaging married couples.

A recent study by think-tank Civitas estimated that couples with children could find themselves £5,000 better off a year if they split and lived apart.

The Tory leader David Cameron described the situation as “madness” and has pledged new tax breaks to encourage marriage and the family.

Campaigners say fathers have been undermined by the controversial Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Act, which means there will no longer be a legal requirement for a mother to declare the child’s father on the birth certificate.

Instead she can designate anyone she wishes to be the ‘second parent’ and it does not matter what their relationship is to her or the child, or whether the person is male or female.

Iain Duncan Smith, a leading spokesman on marriage and the family said the new law is in danger of “airbrushing” out fathers.

Speaking earlier this week in Canada, Mr Duncan Smith warned that 15 per cent of British babies are now born without a resident biological father and he predicted the figures were likely to increase under current policy.

In October a study by researchers at Newcastle University concluded that children are likely to do better at school and in later life if their fathers take an active role in their upbringing.

Children whose fathers played and read with them had higher IQs and went on to achieve greater social status than those whose fathers had little involvement.

Dr Daniel Nettle, who led the research, said: “What was surprising about this research was the real sizeable difference in the progress of children who benefited from paternal interest and how thirty years later, people whose dads were involved are more upwardly mobile.”

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