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Ok.   As   Men's  Rights  Activists,  we   have  lots  of   issues  to  deal  with.  However,   there  are  priorities.

The  Crisis  in   Men  and  Boys   Education  is, in  my  eyes, the  most  important  one.    

Fortunately,  some  educators  have  started  working  on  it.   Let's  give  them  a   hand  by  spreading  the  word.

Male  Victims  of   Domestic   Violence   also  remain   a  problem.  These  gentlemen  are  our  brothers   and  they  need  our  help.

And  there  are   Fathers   Rights.

Spread  the  word,  people.   Just  talk  about  it   to  a  friend  and hand  him/her  a  flyer.    That's  how  it  starts.
Victim Now Accused of False Report

By Todd Huffman
[email protected]
Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Sheriff's detective Jon Huffman escorts    Sherry Mullins from the Burke County Sheriff's Office Wednesday morning. Mullins is charged with filing a false police report after alleging that a man kidnapped and raped her.
By Todd Huffman (The News Herald)  


Morganton - Burke County Sheriff's detectives spent the first part of this week investigating a kidnapping and rape.
But now detectives have the accuser, Sherry Mullins, 35, of 318 Walker Road, Morganton, behind bars. Mullins is charged with filing a false police report.

Mullins said she and her 7-year-old son were kidnapped at knife point and taken to a hotel in Myrtle Beach, says Detective John Huffman. She told detectives she was  repeatedly raped, he says.

Huffman was called to Grace Hospital on Saturday night on a kidnapping and rape complaint. By Tuesday, Mullins was saying that the whole thing was a lie.

Mullins told detectives that she escaped when the man, whose identity is unknown, fell asleep, Huffman says.

He says an investigation showed that she had planned three weeks earlier to leave her husband with the man she was accusing of kidnapping and raping her.

She admitted that the whole story was a lie on Tuesday, he says.
"People like her make my job difficult when I'm dealing with a legitimate rape victim," Huffman says.

Detectives invested about 25-30 hours in the case, Huffman says. That time could have been spent on other, real cases, he says.
Filing a false police report in North Carolina is a misdemeanor, Huffman says. But in South Carolina, false charges this serious can be a felony, he says. Myrtle Beach Police Department is extraditing her for charges there as well, he says.

False reports happen, Sgt. Dennis Rhoney says, but all reports have to be taken seriously.

"You have to treat every report like the real thing," he says. Every situation has different ways of investigating the crimes, and they have to be investigated the same way each time.

"If our officers don't follow those parameters, then they're not doing their job," he says. "We take (false reports) very seriously."

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Lesbian jailed over rape 'lies'  

A lesbian football fan has been jailed for falsely claiming she was raped by a man she met in the street on the night her team won the European Cup.
Liverpool fan Patricia Miller, 26, had consensual sex with the 19-year-old student Charles Brown hours after the Champions League final on 25 May 2005.

But she told police she had been raped by Mr Brown at her flat in Acomb, York.

Jailing her for nine months at York Crown Court, Judge Stephen Ashurst said Miller had told "a pack of lies".

During the trial the jury heard that as soon as Miller had lodged her complaint, police launched a major inquiry and a manhunt began to find the alleged rapist.

 You told the police lie after lie

Judge Stephen Ashurst

Mr Brown, of Solihull, near Birmingham, handed himself into police after seeing his picture in a local West Midlands newspaper. He was taken to York where he was interviewed for two days.

It was only then that Miller's lies began to unravel as the teenager maintained that the sex had been consensual, the court heard.

Mr Brown insisted Miller had invited him into the flat after they celebrated together in the street following Liverpool's victory.

However, Miller told the jury during her trial last month that Mr Brown, who was living in digs in the Acomb area, had forced his way into her flat and raped her.

She claimed in her defence that she had never had a relationship with a man and had been seeing a woman at the time.

False statements

Denying claims she was lying, Miller told York Crown Court: "I have the courage to stand here and take this because I have done nothing wrong."

Last month the jury convicted her of perverting the course of justice by making false statements to police.

Referring to Mr Brown, the judge said: "He had to describe what some might regard as a fairly sordid sort of consensual sex with you.

"Police checked out his account and found it to be true. They checked out your account and found it to be a pack of lies.

"You were not the victim of a disturbing rape and you told the police lie after lie.

"In these circumstances I am clear that the offence is so serious that only custody will suffice."
Inequities for women are on agenda
Leaders in L.A. today will discuss ways to improve the lives of women, who according to a new study remain poorer than men.
By Carla Hall, Times Staff Writer
November 30, 2006

When a group of female business, cultural and civic leaders meet today to discuss improving the plight of women in Los Angeles County, they will have a daunting task ahead of them.

According to a new report to be released today by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, women are living longer and make up 44% of the county workforce -- but they remain poorer than their male counterparts.

Most striking is that 40% of the estimated 88,000 homeless people in the county are women and children. Twenty years ago, that percentage was unheard of, according to Marge Nichols, who researched the report.

"Homelessness has changed so much," said Nichols, who retired last year as director of research for the United Way in L.A. but still consults for the agency. "I did a report on homeless shelters in 1986," she said. "Gender wasn't even addressed. There were bag ladies. And very few of those."

Nichols attributes the increase in homeless women and children to the rise in housing costs. "We've lost low-rent housing. There are more single moms with children, and oftentimes those women have a lower income. When they run into hard times, it's the pits."

"The State of Women in Los Angeles Report" paints a picture of women beset by a complex set of problems: poor educational training for today's better-paying jobs, low wages and a dwindling stock of affordable housing.

Among other findings, the report says "40% of single-mother families with children under 18 are poor" -- up from 37% in 1990.

"I think we all hoped there would be more progress -- that women's earnings would be up more, that fewer women would be living in poverty," said Elise Buik, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Greater Los Angeles. "I hope this creates an urgency about how women are compensated."

Buik hopes that urgency will permeate today's 2006 Women Leaders Summit at downtown's California Endowment Center for Healthy Communities, which 150 prominent women are expected to attend.

Among the guests will be Paula Madison, president and general manager of KNBC-TV Channel 4 and regional general manager for the NBC/Telemundo TV stations in Los Angeles; L.A. first lady Corina Villaraigosa; writer and performer Sandra Tsing Loh; and Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

Although the United Way still dispenses funds to numerous nonprofit groups, Buik says the agency has to take a more active role in getting community leaders together to devise strategies for fixing problems.

"The world's issues have gotten more complex," Buik said. "How do we become more relevant to donors and how do we have more impact?"

On the subject of work and earnings, the United Way study found that 34% of women in the county work full time and have a median income of $34,941 -- compared with $36,581 for men.

Eighteen percent of all women in Los Angeles County live below the poverty level -- which is $13,200 for a single mother with one child, compared with 15% of men, said Nichols, who used the U.S. Census Bureau's "2004 American Community Survey for Los Angeles County" and other sources for the study.

Also, the report says "child care is a make-or-break issue for working women; half of women make less than what they need in order to afford child care."

One result of the study that Nichols thinks leaders should focus on is education. Although, as the report points out, more girls than boys graduate from high school in the county and more women are enrolled in college in the county than men, there are still problems.

Girls in high school tend not to do as well as boys in math and science. And Latinos in general lag in educational achievement. According to Nichols, only 24% of Latinas have a high school diploma, 18% have taken some college courses and 8% have a college degree.

"We're going to have a larger and larger Latino population, and because they have come from a position with less education, there's going to be a challenge to make sure Latino youth and women have the education necessary to maintain the workforce in L.A.," Nichols said.

"Unless the education and training picture is greatly improved, our largest group of workers is going to have the lowest level of education."

[email protected]
Thursday, November 30, 2006

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Yes. Thursday, November 30, 2006
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Yes. Bill assumes male guilt and opens door to unfair prosecutions.

Jeffery M. Leving and Glenn Sacks


What do you think?

Mail letters to The Detroit News, Editorial Page, 615 W. Lafayette, Detroit, MI 48226, or fax them to (313) 222-6417 or e-mail them to [email protected].

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B ob and Jane live together and, like many young couples, they sometimes argue. There never seems to be enough money, and while they both want to go to college, neither has yet been able to do so. Jane recently discovered that she is pregnant.

Jane is ambivalent about the pregnancy, and her friends think she should terminate it -- she's too young, and Bob isn't very stable. Bob would like to be a father someday, but not now -- he can't pay their bills and wants a better career.

One day Bob and Jane argue over some things Jane bought with their credit card, and Bob tells Jane he doesn't want to pay their bills anymore. He says he's tired of arguing with her, doesn't want her to have the baby, and wants to move out for a while and think things over.

Under a bill recently passed by the Michigan House of Representatives, Bob could go to jail.

House Bill 5882 creates the Coercive Abortion Prevention Act. Its purpose is to prohibit the putative father of a pregnant woman's child from coercing or intimidating the woman into terminating her pregnancy. While preventing violence or threats of violence against pregnant women is an admirable goal, the proposal goes way beyond this by interfering with constitutionally protected personal prerogatives.

The proposal actually makes it a crime for a man to "change or attempt to change an existing housing or cohabitation arrangement" with a pregnant significant other, to "file or attempt to file for a divorce" from his pregnant wife or to "withdraw or attempt to withdraw financial support" from a woman whom he has been supporting -- if it is determined that the man is doing these things to try to pressure the woman to terminate her pregnancy.

This violates men's rights. The U.S. Constitution's protected liberty interests safeguard privacy in areas such as contraception, abortion, marriage, procreation, child rearing and sexual conduct between consenting adults.

Do Michigan legislators believe these protections don't also cover the basic personal choices the proposal proscribes?

The bill is also laden with unfair assumptions of male perfidy. There are many reasons why a man might be unhappy over his wife's or girlfriend's pregnancy, and consider ending his relationship with her. He may doubt that the child she is carrying is his. He may feel he was deceived into the pregnancy. She may lash out at him during her pregnancy-related mood swings, and he may take offense.

A talented prosecuting attorney who may be looking for publicity could frame a man's decision as an attempt to coerce an abortion.

The accused need not be convicted to suffer egregious harm -- the cost of criminal defense is often ruinous, and the emotional toll can be worse.

The physical dangers from which House Bill 5882's supporters seek to protect pregnant women are real. It's debatable whether the bill's anti-violence provisions are good law, because the acts it specifies are already illegal.

However, protecting women from violence is one thing -- punishing men for their peaceful, private conduct in their personal relationships is quite another.

Jeffery M. Leving is a family law attorney based in Chicago and Glenn Sacks is a syndicated men's and fathers' issues radio talk show host.

Jeffery M. Leving and Glenn Sacks


What do you think?

Mail letters to The Detroit News, Editorial Page, 615 W. Lafayette, Detroit, MI 48226, or fax them to (313) 222-6417 or e-mail them to [email protected].

Printer friendly version
Comment on this story
Send this story to a friend
Get Home Delivery
B ob and Jane live together and, like many young couples, they sometimes argue. There never seems to be enough money, and while they both want to go to college, neither has yet been able to do so. Jane recently discovered that she is pregnant.

Jane is ambivalent about the pregnancy, and her friends think she should terminate it -- she's too young, and Bob isn't very stable. Bob would like to be a father someday, but not now -- he can't pay their bills and wants a better career.

One day Bob and Jane argue over some things Jane bought with their credit card, and Bob tells Jane he doesn't want to pay their bills anymore. He says he's tired of arguing with her, doesn't want her to have the baby, and wants to move out for a while and think things over.

Under a bill recently passed by the Michigan House of Representatives, Bob could go to jail.

House Bill 5882 creates the Coercive Abortion Prevention Act. Its purpose is to prohibit the putative father of a pregnant woman's child from coercing or intimidating the woman into terminating her pregnancy. While preventing violence or threats of violence against pregnant women is an admirable goal, the proposal goes way beyond this by interfering with constitutionally protected personal prerogatives.

The proposal actually makes it a crime for a man to "change or attempt to change an existing housing or cohabitation arrangement" with a pregnant significant other, to "file or attempt to file for a divorce" from his pregnant wife or to "withdraw or attempt to withdraw financial support" from a woman whom he has been supporting -- if it is determined that the man is doing these things to try to pressure the woman to terminate her pregnancy.

This violates men's rights. The U.S. Constitution's protected liberty interests safeguard privacy in areas such as contraception, abortion, marriage, procreation, child rearing and sexual conduct between consenting adults.

Do Michigan legislators believe these protections don't also cover the basic personal choices the proposal proscribes?

The bill is also laden with unfair assumptions of male perfidy. There are many reasons why a man might be unhappy over his wife's or girlfriend's pregnancy, and consider ending his relationship with her. He may doubt that the child she is carrying is his. He may feel he was deceived into the pregnancy. She may lash out at him during her pregnancy-related mood swings, and he may take offense.

A talented prosecuting attorney who may be looking for publicity could frame a man's decision as an attempt to coerce an abortion.

The accused need not be convicted to suffer egregious harm -- the cost of criminal defense is often ruinous, and the emotional toll can be worse.

The physical dangers from which House Bill 5882's supporters seek to protect pregnant women are real. It's debatable whether the bill's anti-violence provisions are good law, because the acts it specifies are already illegal.

However, protecting women from violence is one thing -- punishing men for their peaceful, private conduct in their personal relationships is quite another.

Jeffery M. Leving is a family law attorney based in Chicago and Glenn Sacks is a syndicated men's and fathers' issues radio talk show host.
Michigan NOW Declares 'Action Alert' Against
Shared Parenting Bill

Michigan NOW Declares 'Action Alert' Against Shared Parenting Bill
Michigan NOW Declares 'Action Alert' Against Shared Parenting Bill

This is verbatim from an email:

Michigan shared parenting advocates and the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for Women are squaring off over HB 5267, a Michigan shared parenting bill which will be heard by the House Families and Children Services Committee on December 6. Last week NOW issued an "Action Alert" against the bill. Michigan shared parenting groups, including Dads of Michigan, the American Coalition for Fathers & Children's Michigan affiliate, the Family Rights Coalition of Michigan, and others, are rallying support for the bill.

You can access a list of Michigan legislators, their phone numbers and their email addresses by clicking here.

The Case for HB 5267

Michigan NOW makes its case against shared parenting and HB 5267 here.

I laid out the case in favor of HB 5267 and discussed many of NOW's criticisms in my co-authored column HB 5267 Will Help Michigan's Children of Divorce (Lansing State Journal, 5/28/06). Mike McCormick, Executive Director of the American Coalition for Fathers & Children, and I wrote:

"HB 5267 is primarily sponsored by Rep. Leslie Mortimer (R-Horton), who has been joined by 10 other legislators. When parents cannot agree on custody arrangements, the bill instructs courts to order joint custody unless there is clear and convincing evidence that one of the parents is unfit, unwilling, or unable to care for his or her child. A mediator will then help the parents draft a shared parenting plan based on each parent having substantially equal time with their children. The principle behind the bill is difficult to dispute--as long as both parents are fit and there are no extenuating circumstances, they should both share in parenting their children...

"NOW claims that HB 5267 'places the interests of parents over the child's interests.' Yet when researchers have examined children of divorce, and studied and queried adult children of divorce, they've found that most prefer joint custody and shared parenting.

"For example, a study by psychologist Joan Kelly, published in the Family and Conciliation Courts Review, found that children of divorce 'express higher levels of satisfaction with joint physical custody than with sole custody arrangements,' and cite the 'benefit of remaining close to both parents' as an important factor.

"When Arizona State University psychology professor William Fabricius conducted a study of college students who had experienced their parents' divorces while they were children, he found that over two-thirds believed that 'living equal amounts of time with each parent is the best arrangement for children.' His findings were published in Family Relations in 2003.

"Under current law, judges decide custody cases based on the 12 factors delineated in Michigan's Best Interest of the Child Test. Both the Michigan Bar and Michigan NOW assure us that this system is effective and should not be changed. However, the 12 factors fail to place sufficient emphasis on protecting children's relationships with both parents. According to the Michigan Family Independence Agency, the most common parenting time schedule in Michigan allows children only 15% physical time with their noncustodial parents.

"Moreover, the custody decisions based on the factors are often subjective and arbitrary. Under HB 5267 a court cannot deny requests for joint custody without stating its reasons on the record.

"Michigan NOW also asserts that HB 5267 will 'further impoverish children of separated or divorced parents' because in Michigan, as in most states, the amount of physical time divorced parents spend with their children and the concomitant expenses are calculated into the child support obligation. These fears are also unwarranted.

"Research demonstrates that joint custody leads to higher rates of child support compliance. This isn't surprising, since parents who are permitted little role in their children's lives have less motivation to make sacrifices for them. Also, under the current system noncustodial parents are often forced to wage expensive court battles in order to protect their time and relationships with their children. These parents end up supporting lawyers instead of kids.

"While Michigan NOW is correct that there are fathers who put their pocketbooks above their children's best interests, they ignore the obvious converse. If a dad may seek 40 or 50% physical time with his children simply to lower his child support obligation, doesn't it also hold that a mother may seek 85% physical time in order to increase it?

"Both Domestic Violence Escape and NOW claim that the bill will put abused women in harm's way. According to DOVE, HB 5267 'sends a clear message to battered women and children that the 'rights' of a batterer take precedence over their safety and wellbeing.' Yet under HB 5267 only fit parents are eligible for joint custody--battered mothers should and would receive sole custody.

"Unfortunately, NOW, DOVE and other misguided women's advocates seem capable of recognizing only two types of divorces--ones where both spouses agree on a custody arrangement, and divorces involving domestic violence. However, the overwhelming majority of breakups fit neither profile. Instead, decent, fit parents often cannot agree on custody. In such cases, HB 5267 will ensure that children won't see one of the two people they love the most pushed to the margins of their lives."

You can access more information about HB5267 on Family Rights Coalition of Michigan site.

Labels: ACFC, Dads of Michigan, Family Law, Joint Custody, Law, Legal Info, Legislation, Michigan, Shared Parenting
History and Politics / The War Against Boys
Dec 01, 2006, 10:26 AM
Judging from the subtitle of The War Against Boys alone, it's clear that Sommers has an axe to grind: she blames the feminist movement for many of the problems that young men experience.  Her suggestion is that gender-neutral child rearing ignores that fact that boys have a distinct nature different from girls, and that boys are not well served if we ignore this fact.  

She criticizes the recent work of Carol Gilligan that argues that young women suffer in a male dominated society, and she equally criticizes the related work of William Pollack that argues that young men are oppressed by cultural ideals of masculinity.  She calls for a return to traditional education that includes the forming of moral character, and believes that the old-fashioned goal of helping boys become gentlemen has great value.  

           Some of Sommers' arguments make good sense.  For example, when feminists deny the obvious average differences between boys and girls, they look silly.  Sommers also argues convincingly against educators who put more emphasis on increasing children's self-esteem than giving them skills they can be proud of.  She gives strong evidence that boys are on average performing worse than girls in school and college.  She makes a strong argument that we should try single-sex education as a solution to some problems, and allow competition and discipline back into the classroom, if it is actually true that they were neglected.  

           Sommers' arguments against the excesses of feminist claims and the wooly thinking of academics in schools of education are convincing.  However, the fundamental weakness of The War Against Boys is its failure to demonstrate that there is a crisis or even a serious problem in our current education policies concerning the treatment of boys.  At most, Sommers highlights a few worrying trends in the work of educational psychologists and some best-selling books, but she says nothing to show that boys are really being harmed by new methods of education and government policies.  While she provides a plethora of statistics showing the poor performance of boys compared to girls in schools, her criticisms of modern education policy are impressionistic and vague; she never makes a strong case that education has actually been taken over by the self-esteem movement or false therapeutic values.  She does cite some interesting studies that suggest that voicing one's emotions may not be helpful in recovering from trauma, but it is far from clear that it is part of mainstream education policy to encourage children to give voice to their personal pain.  The few examples Sommers provides to support her case are no substitute for good data.  

           One of Sommers' main ideas is that boys and girls are intrinsically different, and that it is folly to try to change this.  She ends her book with the idea that we should accept and even rejoice in the adage, "boys will be boys."  Yet she is also rather alarmed that girls are in many ways doing better than boys in schools and college.  It is hard to see why we should share her alarm.  While it is clear that boys are doing less well than girls, on average, in schools around the country, she gives no evidence that boys are doing less well than they used to in previous decades.  Indeed, one of the charts in the book shows clearly that there is improvement over the 10 years between 1980 and 1990 in the percentage of high school sophomores who arrive at school unprepared, for both boys and girls (p. 28).  Sommers suggestions that there is a "war against boys" and that it is "a bad time to be a boy in America" remain implausible.  It seems just as likely that boys are doing less well than girls in school and college because they are simply less interested in school work or even less talented than girls, and that they chose to put their energy into other pursuits and careers that do not need college degrees.  

Furthermore, while she is unsympathetic to the recent claims of Gilligan and Mary Pipher about the current plight of girls, she says little to address the data that suggest that girls have a very hard time in high school, facing increasing rates of diagnosis of depression, self-injury, and eating disorders, and increasing problems of sexual harassment and assault and pressures to engage in sexual activity.  While some of her criticisms of feminist scholarship are legitimate, she chooses soft targets, such as proposals that boys should be playing with dolls and wearing dresses, that even few other feminists are ready to defend.  

The debates over gender issues and the state of education in America today have become highly charged.  Sommers rightly insists that we should be careful with the statistics and their interpretation, and we should avoid leaping to unwarranted conclusions.  Her criticisms of some of methodologies of Carol Gilligan and William Pollack are convincing and noteworthy.  But Sommers' conclusion that there is systemic discrimination and prejudice against boys in schools across America remains unproven. She is right to draw attention to the dangers of such problems, and indeed, I hope that students in educational psychology and schools and departments of education are encouraged to read The War Against Boys, at least if they are going to read other works in these gender debates.  Ironically, in her talk of "war," Sommers herself engages in as dramatic and overblown rhetoric as her opponents, and if these debates are going to progress, we need to move away from ideologically driven stances, looking to see what problems children are actually experiencing and finding creative and realistic solutions.

NB: My thanks to my colleagues Mark Rigstad and Richard Wilkens for helpful discussions of these matters.  Thanks also to Christina Hoff Sommers for engaging in debate on these issues on her visit to our college this month.
History and Politics / A War Against Boys
Dec 01, 2006, 10:23 AM
A War Against Boys?
By Michael Kimmel
Fall 2006

Doug Anglin isn't likely to flash across the radar screen at an Ivy League admissions office. A seventeen-year-old senior at Milton High School, a suburb outside Boston, Anglin has a B-minus average and plays soccer and baseball. But he's done something that millions of other teenagers haven't: he's sued his school district for sex discrimination.

Anglin's lawsuit, brought with the aid of his father, a Boston lawyer, claims that schools routinely discriminate against males. "From the elementary level, they establish a philosophy that if you sit down, follow orders, and listen to what they say, you'll do well and get good grades," he told a journalist. "Men naturally rebel against this." He may have a point: overworked teachers might well look more kindly on classroom docility and decorum. But his proposed remedies--such as raising boys' grades retroactively--are laughable.

And though it's tempting to parse the statements of a mediocre high school senior--what's so "natural" about rebelling against blindly following orders, a military tactician might ask--Anglin's apparent admissions angle is but the latest skirmish of a much bigger battle in the culture wars. The current salvos concern boys. The "trouble with boys" has become a staple on talk-radio, the cover story in Newsweek, and the subject of dozens of columns in newspapers and magazines. And when the First Lady offers a helping hand to boys, you know something political is in the works. "Rescuing" boys actually translates into bashing feminism.

There is no doubt that boys are not faring well in school. From elementary schools to high schools they have lower grades, lower class rank, and fewer honors than girls. They're 50 percent more likely to repeat a grade in elementary school, one-third more likely to drop out of high school, and about six times more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

College statistics are similar--if the boys get there at all. Women now constitute the majority of students on college campuses, having passed men in 1982, so that in eight years women will earn 58 percent of bachelor's degrees in U.S. colleges. One expert, Tom Mortensen, warns that if current trends continue, "the graduation line in 2068 will be all females." Mortensen may be a competent higher education policy analyst but he's a lousy statistician. His dire prediction is analogous to predicting forty years ago that, if the enrollment of black students at Ol' Miss was one in 1964, and, say, two hundred in 1968 and one thousand in 1976, then "if present trends continue" there would be no white students on campus by 1982. Doomsayers lament that women now outnumber men in the social and behavioral sciences by about three to one, and that they've invaded such traditionally male bastions as engineering (where they now make up 20 percent) and biology and business (virtually par).

These three issues--declining numbers, declining achievement, and increasingly problematic behavior--form the empirical basis of the current debate. But its political origins are significantly older and ominously more familiar. Peeking underneath the empirical faηade helps explain much of the current lineup.

Why Now?
If boys are doing worse, whose fault is it? To many of the current critics, it's women's fault, either as feminists, as mothers, or as both. Feminists, we read, have been so successful that the earlier "chilly classroom climate" has now become overheated to the detriment of boys. Feminist-inspired programs have enabled a whole generation of girls to enter the sciences, medicine, law, and the professions; to continue their education; to imagine careers outside the home. But in so doing, these same feminists have pathologized boyhood. Elementary schools are, we read, "anti-boy"--emphasizing reading and restricting the movements of young boys. They "feminize" boys, forcing active, healthy, and naturally exuberant boys to conform to a regime of obedience, "pathologizing what is simply normal for boys," as one psychologist puts it. Schools are an "inhospitable" environment for boys, writes Christina Hoff Sommers, where their natural propensities for rough-and-tumble play, competition, aggression, and rambunctious violence are cast as social problems in the making. Michael Gurian argues in The Wonder of Boys, that, with testosterone surging through their little limbs, we demand that they sit still, raise their hands, and take naps. We're giving them the message, he says, that "boyhood is defective." By the time they get to college, they've been steeped in anti-male propaganda. "Why would any self-respecting boy want to attend one of America's increasingly feminized universities?" asks George Gilder in National Review. The American university is now a "fluffy pink playpen of feminist studies and agitprop 'herstory,' taught amid a green goo of eco-motherism . . . "

Such claims sound tinnily familiar. At the turn of the last century, cultural critics were concerned that the rise of white-collar businesses meant increasing indolence for men, whose sons were being feminized by mothers and female teachers. Then, as now, the solutions were to find arenas in which boys could simply be boys, and where men could be men as well. So fraternal lodges offered men a homo-social sanctuary, and dude ranches and sports provided a place where these sedentary men could experience what Theodore Roosevelt called the strenuous life. Boys could troop off with the Boy Scouts, designed as a fin-de-siθcle "boys' liberation movement." Modern society was turning hardy, robust boys, as Boy Scouts' founder Ernest Thompson Seton put it, into "a lot of flat chested cigarette smokers with shaky nerves and doubtful vitality." Today, women teachers are once again to blame for boys' feminization. "It's the teacher's job to create a classroom environment that accommodates both male and female energy, not just mainly female energy," explains Gurian.

WHAT'S WRONG with this picture? Well, for one thing, it creates a false opposition between girls and boys, assuming that educational reforms undertaken to enable girls to perform better hinder boys' educational development. But these reforms--new classroom arrangements, teacher training, increased attentiveness to individual learning styles--actually enable larger numbers of boys to get a better education. Though the current boy advocates claim that schools used to be more "boy friendly" before all these "feminist" reforms, they obviously didn't go to school in those halcyon days, the 1950s, say, when the classroom was far more regimented, corporal punishment common, and teachers far more authoritarian; they even gave grades for "deportment." Rambunctious boys were simply not tolerated; they dropped out.

Gender stereotyping hurts both boys and girls. If there is a zero-sum game, it's not because of some putative feminization of the classroom. The net effect of the No Child Left Behind Act has been zero-sum competition, as school districts scramble to stretch inadequate funding, leaving them little choice but to cut noncurricular programs so as to ensure that curricular mandates are followed. This disadvantages "rambunctious" boys, because many of these programs are after-school athletics, gym, and recess. And cutting "unnecessary" school counselors and other remedial programs also disadvantages boys, who compose the majority of children in behavioral and remedial educational programs. The problem of inadequate school funding lies not at feminists' door, but in the halls of Congress. This is further compounded by changes in the insurance industry, which often pressure therapists to put children on medication for ADHD rather than pay for expensive therapy.

Another problem is that the frequently cited numbers are misleading. More people--that is, males and females--are going to college than ever before. In 1960, 54 percent of boys and 38 percent of girls went directly to college; today the numbers are 64 percent of boys and 70 percent of girls. It is true that the rate of increase among girls is higher than the rate of increase among boys, but the numbers are increasing for both.

The gender imbalance does not obtain at the nation's most elite colleges and universities, where percentages for men and women are, and have remained, similar. Of the top colleges and universities in the nation, only Stanford sports a fifty-fifty gender balance. Harvard and Amherst enroll 56 percent men, Princeton and Chicago 54 percent men, Duke and Berkeley 52 percent, and Yale 51 percent. In science and engineering, the gender imbalance still tilts decidedly toward men: Cal Tech is 65 percent male and 35 percent female; MIT is 62 percent male, 38 percent female.

And the imbalance is not uniform across class and race. It remains the case that far more working-class women--of all races--go to college than do working-class men. Part of this is a seemingly rational individual decision: a college-educated woman still earns about the same as a high-school educated man, $35,000 to $31,000. By race, the disparities are more starkly drawn. Among middle-class, white, high school graduates going to college this year, half are male and half are female. But only 37 percent of black college students and 45 percent of Hispanic students are male. The numerical imbalance turns out to be more a problem of race and class than gender. It is what Cynthia Fuchs Epstein calls a "deceptive distinction"--a difference that appears to be about gender, but is actually about something else.

Why don't the critics acknowledge these race and class differences? To many who now propose to "rescue" boys, such differences are incidental because, in their eyes, all boys are the same aggressive, competitive, rambunctious little devils. They operate from a facile, and inaccurate, essentialist dichotomy between males and females. Boys must be allowed to be boys--so that they grow up to be men.

This facile biologism leads the critics to propose some distasteful remedies to allow these testosterone-juiced boys to express themselves. Gurian, for example, celebrates all masculine rites of passage, "like military boot camp, fraternity hazings, graduation day, and bar mitzvah" as "essential parts of every boy's life." He also suggests reviving corporal punishment, both at home and at school--but only when administered privately with cool indifference and never in the heat of adult anger. He calls it "spanking responsibly," though I suspect school boards and child welfare agencies might have another term for it.

But what boys need turns out to be pretty much what girls need. In their best-selling Raising Cain, Michael Thompson and Dan Kindlon describe boys' needs: to be loved, get sex, and not be hurt. Parents are counseled to allow boys their emotions; accept a high level of activity; speak their language; and treat them with respect. They are to teach the many ways a boy can be a man, use discipline to guide and build, and model manhood as emotionally attached. Aside from the obvious tautologies, what they advocate is exactly what feminists have been advocating for girls for some time.

Boys' Lives and Fatherlessness
However, those feminist women, many of whom are also involved mothers, are seen not as boys' natural allies in claiming a better education but as their enemies. Fears of "momism"--that peculiar cultural malady that periodically rears its head--have returned. Remember those World War II best sellers, like Philip Wylie's Generation of Vipers, David Levy's Maternal Overprotection, and Edward Strecker's Their Mothers' Sons that laid men's problems at the foot of overdominant mothers, who drained their boys of ambition and hardy manliness and led them straight to the summit of Brokeback Mountain?

Well, they're back. Now the problem with mothers is that they read The Feminine Mystique and ran out to pursue careers, which caused a mass exodus of fathers from the lives of their sons. Feminist women not only promoted girls at the expense of boys, but they kicked dad out of the house and left boys wallowing in an anomic genderless soup.

The cause of the boy crisis, we hear, is fatherlessness. Boys lack adequate role models because their fathers are either at work all the time or are divorced with limited custody and visitation privileges. Discussions of boys' problems almost invariably circle back to fathers or, rather the lack of them. But fatherlessness is not Dad's fault. It's Mom's. The debate about boys instantly morphs into a discussion of unwed mothers, single-parent families, babies having babies, and punitive and vindictive ex-wives (and their equally punitive and vindictive lawyers) who prevent men from being more present in their lives of their children. Women left the home in search of work and fulfillment, abandoning their natural role of taming men and rearing children. Feminism declares war against nature. The battle for boys is only the latest front.

This antifeminist political argument is best, and most simply, made by Harvey Mansfield, author of the recent Manliness, in a November 3, 1997, op-ed essay in the Wall Street Journal. "The protective element of manliness is endangered when women have equal access to jobs outside the home," he writes. "Women who do not consider themselves feminist often seem unaware of what they are doing to manliness when they work to support themselves. They think only that people should be hired and promoted on merit, regardless of sex." When Lionel Tiger argues that "the principal victims of moving toward a merit-based society have been male," one feels a certain resigned sadness. Imagine that: it's feminists who actually believe in meritocracy.

FATHERS WOULD be present in their sons' lives (in this debate, fathers don't seem to have daughters)--if only women would let them. "Fortunately," writes pro-fatherhood activist Steve Biddulph, "fathers are fighting their way back into family life." Fighting against whom exactly? Feminist women have been pleading with men to come home and share housework and child care--let alone to help raise their sons--for what, 150 years?

As role models, fathers could provide a model of decisiveness, discipline, and emotional control--which would be useful for their naturally aggressive, testosterone-juiced sons at school. But how do these same biologically driven, rambunctious boys magically grow up to be strong, silent, decisive, and controlled fathers?

It's easy--if women do what they are biologically programmed to do: stay home and raise boys (but not for too long) and constrain the natural predatory, aggressive, and lustful impulses of their men. In leaving the home and going to work, women abandoned their naturally prescribed role of sexual constraint. Presto: a debate about fatherhood and boyhood becomes a debate about feminism.

The boy crisis would be magically solved if fathers were not exiled from family life. The spate of works about fatherhood that appeared several years ago is now being recycled in the debate about boys. Fathers, by virtue of being men, bring something irreplaceable to the family, something "inherently masculine" notes Wade Horn, assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. (It is Horn who is promoting the backward idea that marriage-based programs will alleviate poverty when all available evidence suggests the opposite relationship, that alleviating poverty would actually lead to an increase in marriages.) That "inherently masculine" influence is a triumph of form over content. David Blankenhorn's catalog of specious correlations, Fatherless America, that saw fathers' absence as the source of virtually every social problem in America, doesn't call for a new fatherhood, based on emotional receptivity and responsiveness, compassion and patience, care and nurture. Instead he rails against such a father in this sarcastic passage:

He is nurturing. He expresses his emotions. He is a healer, a companion, a colleague. He is a deeply involved parent. He changes diapers, gets up at 2:00 a.m. to feed the baby, goes beyond "helping out" . . . to share equally in the work, joys, and responsibilities of domestic life.

How utterly "selfish" of him. This "reflects the puerile desire for human omnipotentiality in the form of genderless parenthood, a direct repudiation of fatherhood as a gendered social role for men." What he means is that the real father is neither nurturing nor expressive; he is neither a partner nor a friend to his wife, and he sleeps through most of the young baby's infantile helplessness, oblivious to the needs of his wife and child. This guy is a father simply because he has a Y chromosome. Men are fathers, but they are not required to do any real parenting. The father "protects his family, provides for its material needs, devotes himself to the education of his children, and represents his family's interests in the larger world"--all valuable behaviors, to be sure. But he need not ever set foot in his child's room.

The notion that men should be exempt from mundane housework and child care, which should be left to their wives, is deeply insulting to women. Feminism taught us that. But it's also deeply insulting to men, because it assumes that the nurturing of life itself cannot be our province; given how clumsy and aggressive we are, it had better be done at a distance.

Masculinity: The Missing Piece
What, then, is missing from the debate about boys? In a word, the boys themselves--or rather, what the boys feel, think, and believe--especially what they believe will make them men. None of the antifeminist pundits who seek to rescue boys from the emasculating clutches of feminism ever talks about what masculinity means to boys. The beliefs, attitudes, and traits that form the foundation of gender identity and ideology are nowhere to be found--except as some mythic endocrine derivative. "Males" are the topic, not "masculinity." Countless surveys suggest that young boys today subscribe to a traditional definition of masculinity, stressing the suppression of emotion, stoic resolve, aggression, power, success, and other stereotypic features. Indeed, the point of such successful books as William Pollack's Real Boys and Thompson and Kindlon's Raising Cain is to expand the emotional and psychological repertoire of boys, enabling them to express a wider emotional and creative range.

How does a focus on the ideology of masculinity explain what is happening to boys in school? Consider the parallel for girls. Carol Gilligan's work on adolescent girls describes how these assertive, confident, and proud young girls "lose their voices" when they hit adolescence. At that same moment, Pollack notes, boys become more confident, even beyond their abilities. You might even say that boys find their voices, but it is the inauthentic voice of bravado, posturing, foolish risk-taking, and gratuitous violence. He calls it "the boy code." The boy code teaches them that they are supposed to be in power, and so they begin to act as if they are. They "ruffle in a manly pose," as William Butler Yeats once put it, "for all their timid heart."

In adolescence, both boys and girls get their first real dose of gender inequality: girls suppress ambition, boys inflate it. Recent research on the gender gap in school achievement bears this out. Girls are more likely to undervalue their abilities, especially in the more traditionally "masculine" educational arenas such as math and science. Only the most able and most secure girls take courses in those fields. Thus, their numbers tend to be few, and their mean test scores high. Boys, however, possessed of this false voice of bravado (and facing strong family pressure) are likely to overvalue their abilities, to remain in programs though they are less capable of succeeding.

This difference, and not some putative discrimination against boys, is the reason that girls' mean test scores in math and science are now, on average, approaching that of boys. Too many boys remain in difficult math and science courses longer than they should; they pull the boys' mean scores down. By contrast, the smaller number of girls, whose abilities and self-esteem are sufficient to enable them to "trespass" into a male domain, skew female data upward.

A parallel process is at work in the humanities and social sciences. Girls' mean test scores in English and foreign languages, for example, outpace those of boys. But this is not the result of "reverse discrimination"; it is because the boys bump up against the norms of masculinity. Boys regard English as a "feminine" subject. Pioneering research by Wayne Martino in Australia and Britain found that boys avoid English because of what it might say about their (inauthentic) masculine pose. "Reading is lame, sitting down and looking at words is pathetic," commented one boy. "Most guys who like English are faggots." The traditional liberal arts curriculum, as it was before feminism, is seen as feminizing. As Catharine Stimpson recently put it, "Real men don't speak French."

Boys tend to hate English and foreign languages for the same reasons that girls love them. In English, they observe, there are no hard-and-fast rules, one expresses one's opinion about the topic and everyone's opinion is equally valued. "The answer can be a variety of things, you're never really wrong," observed one boy. "It's not like maths and science where there is one set answer to everything." Another boy noted:

I find English hard. It's because there are no set rules for reading texts. . . English isn't like maths where you have rules on how to do things and where there are right and wrong answers. In English you have to write down how you feel and that's what I don't like.

Compare this to the comments of girls in the same study:

I feel motivated to study English because . . . you have freedom in English--unlike subjects such as maths and science--and your view isn't necessarily wrong. There is no definite right or wrong answer, and you have the freedom to say what you feel is right without it being rejected as a wrong answer.

It is not the school experience that "feminizes" boys, but rather the ideology of traditional masculinity that keeps boys from wanting to succeed. "The work you do here is girls' work," one boy commented to a researcher. "It's not real work."

"Real work" involves a confrontation--not with feminist women, whose sensible educational reforms have opened countless doors to women while closing off none to men--but with an anachronistic definition of masculinity that stresses many of its vices (anti-intellectualism, entitlement, arrogance, and aggression) but few of its virtues. When the self-appointed rescuers demand that we accept boys' "hardwiring," could they possibly have such a monochromatic and relentlessly negative view of male biology? Maybe they do. But simply shrugging our collective shoulders in resignation and saying "boys will be boys" sets the bar much too low. Boys can do better than that. They can be men.

Perhaps the real "male bashers" are those who promise to rescue boys from the clutches of feminists. Are males not also "hardwired" toward compassion, nurturing, and love? If not, would we allow males to be parents? It is never a biological question of whether we are "hardwired" for some behavior; it is, rather, a political question of which "hardwiring" we choose to respect and which we choose to challenge.

The antifeminist pundits have an unyielding view of men as irredeemably awful. We men, they tell us, are savage, lustful, violent, sexually omnivorous, rapacious, predatory animals, who will rape, murder, pillage, and leave towels on the bathroom floor--unless women fulfill their biological duty and constrain us. "Every society must be wary of the unattached male, for he is universally the cause of numerous ills," writes David Popenoe. Young males, says Charles Murray, are "essentially barbarians for whom marriage . . . is an indispensable civilizing force."

By contrast, feminists believe that men are better than that, that boys can be raised to be competent and compassionate, ambitious and attentive, and that men are fully capable of love, care, and nurturance. It's feminists who are really "pro-boy" and "pro-father"--who want young boys and their fathers to expand the definition of masculinity and to become fully human.

Michael Kimmel is Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He has written widely about ideals of manhood and masculinity in American culture. His books include Manhood in America: A Cultural History (1996) and The Gendered Society (2003).
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ERIC #: EJ196100
Title: How Schools Discriminate against Boys.
Authors: McGuinness, Diane
Descriptors: Biological Influences; Elementary Secondary Education; Hyperactivity; Sex (Characteristics); Sex Differences; Sex Discrimination
Journal/Source Name: Human Nature
Journal Citation: v2 n2 p83-88 Feb 1979
Peer-Reviewed: N/A
Publisher: N/A
Publication Date: 1979-02-00
Pages: N/A
Pub Types: Journal Articles
Abstract: Biological differences between the sexes in motor, sensory, and some intellectual abilities are reviewed. The skills that lead to early success in school draw on female talents; as a result, boys are often labeled hyperactive. Journal availability: Human Nature, Inc., Subscriptions Department, P.O. Box 10702, Des Moines, Iowa 50340; single copy $1.75. (Author/MLF)
Abstractor: N/A
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Note: N/A
Identifiers: N/A
Record Type: CIJE
Level: N/A
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Audiences: N/A
Languages: English
Education Level: N/A
Boy can't sue for being barred from girls' team
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Associated Press
Posted: 17 hours ago    

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A boy who wanted to compete on his high school's girls' gymnastics team cannot sue for gender discrimination, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.

The District 4 Court of Appeals upheld a judge's dismissal of Keith Michael Bukowski's lawsuit against the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, which has a rule prohibiting boys from competing in girls' sports.
Bukowski filed the lawsuit as a junior at Stevens Point Area High School in 2004. He argued the WIAA rule preventing him from trying out for and competing on the girl's gymnastics team discriminated against him because his school did not have a boys' team.

Bukowski argued that the rule violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution as well as a federal law known as Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funds.

In a 3-0 ruling, the court said Bukowski failed to show that WIAA, a nonprofit organization of public and private high schools that sets rules for sports competition, could be sued under either argument.

Bukowski didn't prove WIAA was an arm of the state that could be sued for the constitutional violation or that it received federal funding as required in a Title IX claim, the court said. The ruling backed a Portage County judge who came to a similar conclusion.

Courts have previously ruled that letting boys compete on girls' teams jeopardizes opportunities for girls.

Bukowski's attorney, Jared Redfield, said he would likely appeal to the state Supreme Court. He said the ruling means "the WIAA can discriminate at will, which doesn't make any sense at all."

But Bukowski, who had competed in gymnastics at a local YMCA, argued the case was similar to recent examples of girls who were allowed to compete on boys' teams in football and wrestling.

Redfield said female sports no longer deserved what he called a privileged status because participation among women has increased sharply in recent decades.

"Why not treat the genders equally?" he asked. "If women can go on our football team and they can wrestle in tournaments, why in the world if there's no access for a male to participate in gymnastics should they not be on the girls' team?"

But WIAA executive director Doug Chickering said females remain underrepresented in sports. He said allowing Bukowski to compete would have put pressure on WIAA to grant frequent requests from boys who want to play on girls' volleyball teams.

"Our fundamental reason for denying participation was that we didn't want to see girls displaced from girls' teams by boys," he said.

Bukowski graduated earlier this year so the legal fight by him and his mother would affect only other students in the future. Hundreds of students at his school signed a petition backing his efforts to compete in 2004 but courts rejected his attempts for a faster ruling that would have allowed him to compete.

Bukowski, a student at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, may have lost an opportunity for a college scholarship as a result, Redfield said.

Principal Mike Devine said the school does not have a boys' team because of lack of interest and he was following the WIAA rule in refusing to allow Bukowski on the girls' team. He said the school recently hired Bukowski as an assistant coach for the girls' gymnastics team.

"We're glad to have Keith working with our kids right now. He does have some talent in gymnastics," he said. "Even though he couldn't compete with us, he's teaching our kids. That's a somewhat positive outcome for this."
Are we guilty of ignoring fathers' rights?

Posted at: 00:03
Lifeclass Extra: read Lesley Garner's exclusive online column

Desperate letters about fathers who have been denied access to their children continue to pour in to our columnist Lesley Garner after she highlighted the plight of a single father last month.

We have heard about a father whose only contact with his daughter is to watch her from behind the school gates, and from another who spent £60,000 to secure parental responsibility and a court order, only to find it constantly being disobeyed by the mother.

Are the courts automatically biased towards mothers, even if they may not be the more suitable parent? What steps can be taken to force mothers to provide fathers with the necessary contact with their children?

Is there too much of a focus on a father's responsibility to make alimony payments, and not enough on his right to visit his child?

How do you think Britain compares to other countries in the way that it handles the rights of separated parents?

Has the adversarial approach to divorce law turned children into the spoils of marriage?

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Comments (114)
A more important question:
Are we guilty of ignoring children's rights to have equal access to both parents?
Posted by Don, the 14%er on November 30, 2006 2:28 PM
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The Families Courts desperately require the coming of another intellect like that of Lord Denning to save innocent people, mothers, fathers and children from a tragic anomaly that must impinge on the fabric of our society with incalculable pain and consequential damage
Posted by Ben on November 30, 2006 1:31 PM
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I am a mother of two children who has been severly alienated from them.
I have fought in the family court for two years. To this date I have been dismissed as a person who should take a step back from fighting for her children.
I applied for residency in 2004 after the breakdown of my marriage, my ex husband then began his alienation process, I have had four contact orders, all of which have been breached, I have had three CAFCASS reports all of which have clear inconsistencies in them, all of which have been overlooked by the court.
My ex husband has never applied for residency, never had a lawyer, has broken a prohibited steps order.
He is unable to care for the children and leaves them with his parents most of the time. I am completely cut out of their lives, luckily the schools have been very supportive and do keep me informed. I was the victim of domestic violence, of which the Domestic agency was involved, this was overlooked by the courts and CAFCASS, the agency was involved at the recommendation of the police with who I had reported the incidents to.
So two years later I a still without my children, I have put in an official complaint to CAFCASS, am taking my case to High Court. I have almost given up, but I refuse to let a system continue to erode a warm loving relationship with my children. My ex husband is doing this for his own financial gain - and the system allows him to do this. I do not doubt he loves his children, but he certainly does nothing to encourage them to call or see me. Their little hearts have been stolen from me.

Cruel world given that I was their main carer up until two and a half years ago and throughout their formative years.

Disgusted - yes I am, I aim to bring this to the attention of the media and for something to be done about our shocking family courts. It is damaging children and that is a sad fact, so many children are being denied warm loving relationships with families, because the courts have limited resources and the lack of training, thus the more difficult cases slip through the net.
Wrong? It is criminal that these children are being denied the love of their families.
Posted by Tracey on November 30, 2006 1:28 PM
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I spent over 6 years in the family court system trying to maintain contact with my son - whilst his mother fought against it and repeatedly broke court orders for contact.
Last year our case reached the high court and the judge roundly condemned the mother and her family for influencing my son against me and said that I was a good father who had done everything he could for his son. The judge then banned me from seeing him and banned me from his school.
I was then given the usual sop of indirect contact. This means that I am allowed to write to my 7 year old son 6 times a year, when it obvious to all concerned that his mother will not let him see anything I send.
I am also required to compile a memory book supplied by the court reporter. The guidance with the memory book said that it was particularly useful for Aids sufferers and others with terminal illnesses - who won't be around for the child in future.
As far as I know the only terminal disease I have is that of being a father in the UK.
Posted by Paul on November 30, 2006 12:23 PM
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Yes fathers rights are ignored. I was refused access to my kids over 10 years ago. Now they are adults they do not want to know me and have changed their names to the new husband's name... What about my feelings as a father. Does anybody care? NO!
Posted by xris on November 30, 2006 12:01 PM
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Hands up those who voted labour. Then you get what you deserve.
Posted by James Colton on November 30, 2006 11:41 AM
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Quite simply 'yes'.

Post divorce men are regarded as walking wallets who have to prove that it is to their kids' benefit that they should know him. He can face baseless allegations (lies) from mother to which the court gives a lot of weight. It takes forever and only benefits the parasites of the legal system: ie pays the wages for the solicitors, barristers & judges - it is in their interests to keep the acrimony running - at least while the family has any money left.

The result is: depressed dads who find working and new relationships hard; depressed kids who want to see their dad but get into trouble from mum if they say so.

Court is the wrong arena: it takes too long and is all about conflict. We need something that is quick and continues to oversee matters so that if either parent breaks the agreement they are brought into line -- currently mum can do what she wants and dad is brought up short if he steps out of line.
Posted by alain on November 30, 2006 10:53 AM
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First, grateful thanks to Lesley Garner for continuing to highlight this issue.
The family courts in the UK are corrupt. The political agenda corrupts justice.
Lawyers can manufacture well paid work for themselves by increasing the acrimony. Fixed fee divorces are long overdue.

Cafcass applies belief to unproven assertions by the mother. Cafcass applies disbelief to any assertions by the father. Cafcass can actively interfere on the side of the mother. The Judge is more than willing to believe Cafcass in order to excuse his or her responsibility in the institutionalised abuse of children. These children are subsequently deprived of dad contact.
The children then suffer for a problem between the parents and this is illogical, cruel, immoral and evil.

Men are routinely mocked in court by Judges who seem to have issues themselves. Women are frequently treated as heroic figures. Especially with the paper hankie brushing away the tears.

Amateur accountancy is used by the 'Judge' in financial hearings without fairness to both sides. The result is great benefit for the mother who frequently has had little input to domestic finances.

The father is frequently ousted on the unproven say so of the mother leaving the children with the mother, for significant time, because of the delays in the court system. The Judge will then argue that this contrived status quo should continue "in the best interests of the children".

Proof of assertions should be required from both parties. Family courts however are the archetypal example of the "mud sticks" principle where men are concerned.

In years to come, the mad divorce system in the UK will be compared in emotional harm to the slave trade of the past. Men die now due to heartbreak and impossible frustration with injustice.
Posted by Jeff on November 30, 2006 10:50 AM
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When we think about this issue we must look at the whole picture and not just the British situation. In every western country on the planet, the SAME bias against dads in family courts and the SAME anti male hatred on TV, in the press, in programming, advertising and so on, is rife. This means that an agenda is happening. It cannot be an accident. All of these courtiers did not get into this situation at the same time, "by accident." So, the question is: Who is driving this agenda? The one common denominator is radical feminism. This is not the feminism of equality and rights for women. Radical feminism is the feminism of hatred of men. It is rife within our institutions and left wing politics. It is now infiltrating the UN and it thrives on promoting the fear and hatred of men. It was radical feminism that drove the legislators forty years ago to create the system in the family courts we have today. Whenever a left wing government have come to power the radical feminists have moved swiftly to promote their own agenda and laws which favour them and disempower men. This in turn means that within the western world there is a political body that is NOT elected but is being secretly financed by left wing governments with tax payers money, to spread hatred and the fear of men. Hugely inflated statistics and "estimated" statistics, biased non scientific "studies" and advocacy research are used to scare the public.
Until the British people (and press) wake up, the same way as people all over the world are starting to and start asking some very hard questions. The madness that has infected our relationships, legal system, press, TV and social services etc, will continue. BUT, don't take my word for it. Research it yourself.
Posted by George Rolph on November 30, 2006 10:04 AM
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A shame that this important debate is taken up with the usual misinformation and anti-women rants.A better question would be 'Are we damaging children by placing the parents rights above those of the children?'
And what about parents' responsibilities? Why is it that so many fathers choose not to exercise contact with their children - 50-60% according to one recent research review? How can these fathers be supported and encouraged to remain in their children's lives?
Posted by anchor on November 30, 2006 9:43 AM
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UK is simply said a feminist country. Marriage does not make any sense for a man there - and as father you are on the risk to pay and never see your children, because your wife does not like you, cheats on you and finally kicks you out of YOUR house.
Posted by Yohan on November 30, 2006 9:24 AM
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What about fathers who have access but choose not to bother, mothers who are left with full responsibility bacause the absent father wants to try and make their life hell. It works both ways, fathers should have automatic rights to see their children but absent fathers should be made to take responsibilty for the care of their children and not just when it suits them.
Posted by Sars on November 30, 2006 9:10 AM
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This is a western world utterly rife with feminist led anti-male propaganda, and men face essentially complete discrimination on so many levels. This is an issue that continues to gain momentum, just as emancipation began a radical change for women. And this is an issue that led to the creation of increasingly powerful masculinist organisations. Female tv bosses, politicians and your general extremist feminist clearly want to stifle democratic debate and acknowledge this anti-male discrimination, but they above all should realise it's here to stay, and male discontent will grow. I can imagine blanket boycots, demonstrations, direct action, etc, happening, because women in power wish to snuff out this issue, and continue to trample men's rights. Above all this demonstrates for men what feminism is truly about, namely all about Eve, and to hell with Adam. Equality is a fantasy.
Posted by Andrew on November 30, 2006 8:36 AM
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It is clear that the whole issue of family law needs to be put under the microscope. It is manifestly a nonsense and is viewed by many as an instrument to undermine men's status as equal parents and should be abolished.

Traditional marriage is under attack as a result of the enactment of divorce laws that in many cases act as an incentive to dissolve unions where in the past couples may have tried to salvage their relationship, in addition to which the acceptance of alternative family arrangements further destroys respect for the institution of marriage.

What is required is to abolish the whole clumsy edifice of family law and treat marriage as a contract willingly entered into by two adults which should be treated like any other legally binding contract so that unless both parties agree to terminate the contract in accordance with its terms no marriage can be dissolved and any party wishing to break the contract should suffer the legally mandated consequences set forth in the marriage contract.

This would act as a deterrent to unsuitable individuals entering into marriage contracts and to those wishing to terminate them for fear of the consequences.

All lawyers know that this makes sense but a great deal of money is made under the current arrangements
and there is little prospect that things will change, in the meantime marriages will continue to break down and children will remain pawns in the divorce lottery.
Posted by Tony Langley on November 30, 2006 8:13 AM
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As the first poster on this matter has noted, far too many interests beyond women alone profit from the alienation of fathers from children. The biggest challenge for the men's movement is to identify those non-women interests profitting from the bastardisation of innocent children.
Posted by Jk olban on November 30, 2006 8:04 AM
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The discarded programme of family law reform.

Find out here about the family reforms sabotaged by DfES civil servants.

This programme of seminal social reform was devised and agreed by the judiciary, legal professionals, parenting groups and child development specialists was accepted and funded by the Government in 2003 was announced by the Government as its flagship in 2004
but was discarded by DFES civil servants - who hoodwinked Ministers - by pretending these reforms were still in progress
The first two documents, set out the formal specifications:

PP - Conf is the 2003 reform submitted to Government - as approved by Ministers but discarded by Whitehall

Project 157 is the 2004 re-submission of that same reform to Government

This 2004 resubmission was made after it transpired that the DfES had thrown away the original 2003 submission (which the DfES was still pretending to work on)

The resubmission, Project 157, was again accepted by Government Ministers, and passed again to the same civil servant, who was again told to get on with it. On 15 July 2004 he again pretended to agree ('Yes Minister') and got rid of the project again - by pretending - again - that this time he was really going to do the job properly ('That was then, this is now'). Then he continued the same pretence. He replaced the agreed reform with something different and, indeed, useless. Meanwhile, as part of this package of deceit, the intended reforms were announced as the basis for the Government's 2005 package - which, of course, had already been killed by his clique within the DfES before it was publicly launched by the rest of the DfES.

Other documents listed under 'History' provide a minute proportion of other official documents recording this tragic farce.

Posted by David Mortimer on November 30, 2006 7:58 AM
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It is not only fathers who are deprived of their human rights alongside their children. I am a sixty six year old grandfather who has been banned from seeing his granddaughter for the last five years.

I can teach children but a judge decided that my son and I were upsetting the mother as for over three years we tried to get him to enforce the orders on contact and penal notices for disobeying orders.

I say end the secrecy of the family courts so that the world will realise that one million children will not be spending Christmas with both of their biological parents.
Posted by Chris on November 30, 2006 7:26 AM
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A father's first "right" is the DUTY to look after his family.
That is what the word "husband" means.

Fathers need to think on that a great deal more than they do.
Posted by TESS NASH on November 30, 2006 7:15 AM
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Seems like Cafcass can only speak in controlled environment where fathers are gagged.
Posted by bharati on November 30, 2006 7:04 AM
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I am just one of the countless fathers who find themselves at the blunt end of UK Family Law and it's ageing and out-of-touch courts. My crime? None. Just a normal scenario of husband and wife falling out of love very undramatically and the wife finding a new partner. One in three marriages end in divorce. The problems come though because society assumes that the child of a marriage is somehow the 'sole property' of the mother when the parents divorce. UK Law put's the mother in absolute control of the destiny of the child and the destiny of the father's relationship with that child. It is barbaric to everyone involved - it's emotionally cruel to children, it asserts that women should naturally be 'home makers', and that men's role is best to be kept at a distance from their children in order to provide financially for the mother staying at home.
I have total respect for all the mothers, fathers, children and grandparents who find themselves torn apart in secret courtrooms up and down Britain, at the mercy of Judges whose main experience of parenting probably came from boarding school. These old fashioned and outdated Courts have to be made open and non-secret immediately.
Posted by Paul on November 30, 2006 7:03 AM
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I'm a white middle aged man and a father. I'm on the bottom of every pile.
Posted by david on November 30, 2006 5:59 AM
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Both my ex-partner and I are in receipt of benefits. Whilst she receives over £155 a week, I receive £55.
At the weekends when they visit, Friday evening to Sunday evening, I am expected to feed and entertain them out of my SINGLE person's benefit whilst she saves money from not having any extra expenses.
This is grossly unfair, I believe whilst I am unemployed I should receive a proportion of child benefit and child tax credit to cover the time for which I am solely responsible for them.
As you can imagine, feeding two children, entertaining them, and paying for travelling expenses to return them home over a weekend is impossible. If I take them on holiday during the summer, my ex-partner recieves £155 per week whilst having no children in her care, I still receive £55. Fathers get no consideration whatsoever in the benefits system.
Posted by Will on November 30, 2006 5:44 AM
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As somebody has already stated on this subject - children do not remain children forever. Surely when a child has become an adult, he/she is free to contact his/her estranged father - or even mother for that matter. Although many years may have passed - and those years can never be "claimed back" - at least contact can be made and kept if both parties want it.
And the bitter ex-partner can do nothing about it.
Posted by Martin Heyes on November 30, 2006 4:12 AM
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Family Law rewards dysfunction and punishes responsible behaviour. Family Law is not concerned with the social consequences or the devasting emotional and financial damage to the parties involved. Family Law pursues its own interests; the child's interests are the last thing on the agenda. Inequality and the bias in Family Law exists to transfer the maximum amount of wealth from families to the profiteers in the system. Equality would render the entire system virtually useless.

Family Law is junk law and should be trashed.

Posted by Armando Milani on November 30, 2006 2:52 AM
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As an unmarried father and single man, I obtained full custody of my daughter aged six years about 20 years ago in the USA as the Mother exhibited what has become known as PAS- not recognised by the Family Court here. This was in Open Court and recorded in the Broadsheets as it was a precedent and not without its aspects. It is important to note that this did not have the support of the Court's own Social Workers who in my opinion were unable to grasp the salient features of the Case.
It can be done so Fathers should get a good lawyer or McKenzie Friend and involve privately a child psychologist- not a Social Worker as soon as possible after the separation. I held full custody until mid-teens when after allowing joint custody we had problems. These were manageable. I have a good relationship with my daughter and a workable relationship with the Mother.
It may be with the now President of the Family Court, Sir Mark Potter whom I appeared in front of as a Mckenzie friend recently re- use of MCA 1973, that Fathers in the UK may have a better deal as some of his decisions might point in the direction of a 'level playing field'.
I would point out that the leading London law firms involved in the MCA 1973 Case had failed to grasp the essentials behind my litigant friend's position and I had to point out to them their argument was fatally flawed and they would lose on another count anyway.

My point is that it is essential (unfortunately) to do your own legal homework and thoroughly understand the legislation and how to use it.
Posted by Name withheld on November 30, 2006 2:02 AM
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Statistically speaking, considerably more children are killed by their fathers than murdered by a stranger.
Which is leaving aside the huge number of women abused and murdered by husbands and partners or ex's. The whole murder statistics are severly scewed by "domestics".

The God given right of certain men to abuse has erroded the rights of decent men. It is notable that instead of blaming the abusive men for this state of affairs, as ever, it's the women who get the blame.
Men want what they want, but without responsibility or concern for the effects on others, especially women and children. As ever.
Blame the women without the men taking any responsibility at all. Same old, same old.
Posted by Thalia on November 30, 2006 1:52 AM
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Statistically speaking, considerably more children are killed by their fathers than murdered by a stranger.
Which is leaving aside the huge number of women abused and murdered by husbands and partners or ex's. The whole murder statistics are severly scewed by "domestics".

The God given right of certain men to abuse has erroded the rights of decent men. It is notable that instead of blaming the abusive men for this state of affairs, as ever, it's the women who get the blame.
Men want what they want, but without responsibility or concern for the effects on others, especially women and children. As ever.
Blame the women without the men taking any responsibility at all. Same old, same old.
Posted by Thalia on November 30, 2006 1:51 AM
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I give my full support to the men's movement and MRAs.
Stop the criminalization of men!
If men are not happy, no one will be.
The sooner society grasps this vey simple concept, the better for us all.
Posted by Carlos. on November 30, 2006 1:31 AM
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The Australian government pays female children $4000 to have babies and dupe some unfortunate male into an 18 year 18% CSA nightmare.
Posted by tim costello on November 30, 2006 1:27 AM
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In Australia, men do not have rights, any rights.
Posted by tim mercier on November 30, 2006 1:21 AM
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From Australia continued:
Question 4:
Not just as spoils of marriage but,
under Family Law, as weapons that can
be used against the father.
Posted by John Shea on November 30, 2006 12:12 AM
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I sold my house and spent all my life savings in a divorce settlement/custody case primarilty to prevent my ex-wife from taking my son out of the country back to her homeland of Korea. I was successful and got to keep him in Sydney with her having weekend visitations rights. After all the money and anguish she never visits him anyway. The court orders are just there to be ignored and there seems to be no way to enforce them. Divorces should NEVER be heard in court in my opinion.
Posted by Colin on November 30, 2006 12:09 AM
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This is from Australia:
Question 1.
Part 1. Answer is yes - absolutely
Part 2:
(a) The children should be carefully
taken by the authorities and
placed with the father for the
allocated period of access time.
(b) Persistently recalcitrant
mothers to be fined or sent to
(c) Reverse the custody with the
mother paying maintenance and
paying full compensation for the
amount of property handed to her
in respect of caring for the

Question 2:
Answer is yes - absolutely. This is
regardless of whether or not he is the real father of the child.

Question 3:
In comparision with Australia -
definitely not worse.
Posted by John Shea on November 29, 2006 11:50 PM
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I have won custody of my 2 kids with the help from fathers 4 justice a couple of years ago. However I was in a similar situation to Paul. I used to wait at the school fence and meet my young daughter secretly at breaks and dinner times. The head teacher only put a stop to it when someone in the area reported it to the authority.

I am one of the luckiest fathers that have come through this situation, but it has taken it's toll on me both financially and mentally. The 5 years of acrimony felt like half my life has gone. This situation not only effects the children, but all of the extended family.
Posted by Tony on November 29, 2006 10:36 PM
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There are some very sad stories here. I lost contact with my father in my childhood following divorce. He later apologised to me, on his deathbed, saying he just could not face the stress and sadness of visiting us. He still loved my mother when he died - he never mended his broken heart.

My husband has two sons from his first marriage. His first wife forbid any contact between his sons and myself and following the birth of our daughter, her also. However, she allowed him to visit his sons on her conditions which, for the most-part were designed to disrupt our family life. It had nothing to do with what the boys wanted. It was a mind game. But, we knew it and didn't let her win.

Our children are all grown up now but they decided, as soon as they were old enough, that they would contact their half-sister and they adore her - as she does them.

We hear so much about feckless, irresponsible fathers but not so much of the brave souls posting on this board. Please keep fighting for your children, they need you more than you know.
Posted by A sympathetic Mum on November 29, 2006 10:35 PM
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Save in a few very notable cases where Judges remember why they took the job and try to do some justice (at least until the Court of Appeal knocks them down) the family courts and those who work in them are not primarily concerned with the rights of fathers, mothers or children.

Nobody cares if court orders are flouted, parents' lives are ruined and children suffer; it's all about money. Easy solution: he can go out to work, she can stay at home with the children, and another family is kept off welfare. The absent parent does not need to see the children. Best to keep him out of the way to avoid trouble. The less rights he has the less chance of his feeling aggrieved at being deprived of them.

Any propaganda will be peddled with impunity to preserve this status quo as long as the public purse is protected in the short term.

The paradox is that increasing public awareness - that the courts handle a family's life after divorce in this cold-blooded, materialistic and dehumanising way - is the main cause of the decline in marriage and family life in Western "enlightened" countries.

It can only be hoped that what replaces marriage can stay out of the clutches of the social engineers, legislators and courts long enough to flourish. If we lose family life altogether, social cohesion will quickly follow.
Posted by Mark on November 29, 2006 10:05 PM
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My own situation is this...
I had 2 families.. I married young divorced and paid maintenance etc... The mother allowed my children to be abused... which ended up in my son dying later on...
I moved abroad, and have 2 children whom I hoped would be the basis of my life.. but after 3 years of caring and sharing their lives the German mother stopped everything, claimed state support and found a boyfriend... against my wishes I have been cut off and seen my 10 year old son a total OF 30 MINUTES in the last 3 years and I can't get any news about my little girl whose 5th birthday was yesterday! I dont even know where they go to school, the courts don't reply, lawyers are useless and the police arrest me if I try to see the children, (that is if the mother hasn't gone on holiday or away if it's known I am coming)
as the mother claims I am agressive so that I get taken away by police and deported... written authority is "required" from the mother, who of course never gives it..I sent presents to both of them for birthdays etc - but I know that they rarely arrive ... I asked a German policeman if he would EVER enforce a court order AGAINST a mother, he was honest enough to shake his head...
I don't care if you print my name address and the children's too, this scandal has gone on 7 years and my children are denied their father and their culture... and there are thousands upon thousands... too many guys just have a belly-full and walk away... and that doesn't help my case... or those like me, who just want to to give their time, energy, experience and love their children.
Posted by Chris on November 29, 2006 9:33 PM
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The situation for fathers in the UK is only slightly better or worse than it is in all other western democracies. There are virtually no jurisdictions in the world where fathers get a fair deal...except for those places where they get an unfair advantage. And neither of these situations is acceptable.

The problem is that all of the stories about judicial bias against fathers are anecdotal. Everyone 'knows' this bias exists...but no one has ever taken the trouble to prove it with serious research. This enables governments to ignore the outcry, and that is just what they do.

However, there is some hope. New statistical research sponsored by World Fathers Union, an international NGO based in Canada, is being undertaken to prove allegations of judicial bias by rigourous statistical analysis of the public record of judges and the courts in which they sit. A recently published report of the research findings on the Quebec Superior Court in Canada has revealed a severe and overriding bias against fathers by the associate chief justice of that court. Recommendation has been made to the Minister of Justice to have this particular judge removed from judging custody cases.

Whilst one study such as this will not solve the global problem, the research programme is ongoing, and it should put family court judges in all jurisdictions on notice they are being watched and could be the next 'subject judge' of a damning analysis of their own judicial records.

For those interested in learning more about this research programme, it is described on the organisation's website at link

Posted by John T. Smith on November 29, 2006 9:26 PM
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I am an ex-serviceman who has served
throughout the world for this country in recent
years. I am disillusioned with the way I and
others have been treated by this government
and the previous one. I could write a book about
the way I have been treated by the CSA and the
legal system in this country. My heart goes out
to all those fathers and families who are not
allowed to see each other. The government and
the liberals who run this country should hang
their heads in shame.
Posted by John on November 29, 2006 9:16 PM
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In the end love will win. The persistence of a parent denied is a manifestation of love and right thinking. The intransigence of a denying parent is a denial of love for the child. One is a positive polarity,and the other is a negative polarity. I have accepted the requirement to bear witness to these principles over five,ten or fifteen years.(Bear in mind also the paradox that the worse the behaviour of a partner after separation, the more evident the unsustainability of the partnership). The best witness to the sourness of the denier is a willing acceptance of what is required, over the long term, to counter this evil. For evil it is. To rail against the court system is futile. Ask not what you ask of life, but ask what life asks of you (to paraphrase a man who found meaning even in a concentarion camp). When I read many of the comments above, they encourage me, because they show the wells of love in the world, and I am also proud that men have this capacity.
Posted by simon on November 29, 2006 9:12 PM
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The response to this article is absolutely overwhelming.

One of these days, a very clever politician will finally get his or her finger on the pulse, run on a platform that promotes equality for men and fathers, and scoop an election.
Posted by Jay Freed on November 29, 2006 9:09 PM
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How can we ask the French for help within Nato, cowards are cowards and do not help.
Posted by Jones on November 29, 2006 8:13 PM
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At the end of the day if a partner denies a relationship between a child and their family, and the legal system is biased, then it is appropriate for autonomous action to be taken. Children brought up by single parents suffer in all walks of life, education, emotional sucurity and experience mainly to justify a selfish and bitter trait. The world is better off without that scar. On that subject I have no doubt at all.
Posted by Kevin Hall on November 29, 2006 7:14 PM
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The question posed in this article is truly being answered here. YES, fathers' rights are being flagrantly abused or ignored, and children's rights along with them. But can we now move on to the next question: why is nothing being done about it? Here is why.

Politicians don't want to know, they are too busy trying to buy women's votes to bother with the damage some of those women are doing. And there are too many feminist politicians who believe women's rights consist of giving them all the powers they want regardless of how they use them. The Family Courts don't want to know, they are dominated by elderly male judges who see themselves as upholding the great tradition of chivalry whereby women are perfect creatures who always need protecting from violent aggressive men. These judges are complete suckers for a few crocodile tears and the well-worn lies that women are encouraged to peddle through the Courts as a fast pass to booting unwanted husbands out of their homes, families and money. The lawyers don't want to know, they are too busy counting the loot they make out of this misery. CAFCASS doesn't want to know, it is just another money-wasting employment bureau for the incompetent and uncaring. The mainstream media don't want to know, they are too lazy to dig out the unpleasant truth when it is far easier to go with the crowd and chant the endless mantra "all women good, all men bad". Big business doesn't want to know, they dare not upset their biggest customers, i.e. women. Too many women don't want to know, allowing themselves to be seduced by the power they have been given to wreck their ex-husbands' lives, and taking every advantage of it, barely registering the fact that they are just as surely destroying the children they are supposed to be sharing with those same men.

So who is going to help fathers (and some dispossessed mothers too) and their children in this predicament? Winning the moral argument by a country mile has not helped. The above people just continue to look the other way, and are apparently not concerned at the contempt their unprincipled and damaging behaviour is generating. Complaints are achieving nothing, protests are achieving nothing. And all the while the blinkers stay on and the moral degradation of our nation and the destruction of family life continues apace. It is heavily ingrained, one might say endemic in our putrid political system that rewards the feckless and freeloaders and penalises the honest and hard-working.

Are we truly damned? Or do we just have to grit our teeth until these angry people get organised on a huge scale, we reach the tipping point, and an explosion of rage engulfs the whole corrupt system and sweeps it away for good?

Posted by Paul Parmenter on November 29, 2006 6:36 PM
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This is the new world that we are going to live in the future. It is the breaking-up of the family orchestrated by the United Nations.
It is a Socialistic agenda to destroy the the family in order for this future "world body" to govern the populations of the globe.
Fathers are still the providers of the family, but soon will be unable to afford the cost to do so.
Women are the tools they are using to bring it about.
It began in the 60's with the concept of equal rights in the family
which I compare as to have two captains on a ship, which of cause has been devised to bring about the division in the family. It was followed with another,what I call "phenomena", the a-masculation of the male.
Hereby the rights of the male has been replaced with the rights of the woman.
Sit still and observe!.......

Posted by Johannes on November 29, 2006 6:24 PM
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Here in America, it is much the same. My husband hasn't seen his three daughters in three years even though they live only 10 minutes away. He has a court order that compels their mother to at least have them phone him once a week, but that court order is ignored. He has never ever missed one single child support payment, yet he has had not one bit of contact with them in all that time. He could go to court and sue for his visitation rights to be upheld, but the cost is prohibitive.

The girls will be starting college next fall, one right after the other, and it will be very interesting to see if the girls and their mother demand that my husband chip in for their university costs. The issue of higher education costs was deferred, so now that university looms, it's all about to hit the fan. Should a divorced father who has had no contact with his children for years (their doing, not his) be compelled to pay for university (they will be 18, ie, adults)? You watch...some judge is going to make him pay, furthering the idea that men/fathers are no more than walking, breathing ATM machines. You just watch...

Children being used as weapons by is disgusting and immoral. No one cares about the kids. Taking away a child from her father is beyond evil. Those girls are going to have emotional troubles all of their lives because their mother convinced them that daddy never really loved them (but let's make him pay...).
Posted by Michelle on November 29, 2006 6:05 PM
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My wife said I could use the internet...
so I say yes and it's about time we get back to equality...yes dear coming...I've got to go and do the ironing...
Posted by glyn on November 29, 2006 5:58 PM
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Family Courts have no interest in solving issues for the children they have the privilege to serve, only in lining pockets of malicious solicitors, barristers and judges. 2 years in family court, 2 court orders and I haven't seen my children for over 2 years and just been informed that if I send them cards or Christmas presents or attempt to contact then I will be arrested for harassment! The grandparents are also victims of this outrageous gravy train. As someone who works in a caring profession and has the highest clearance to work with sick children, if I hadn't experienced it I would never have believed it.
Posted by David on November 29, 2006 5:39 PM
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The tragic fact is that all family matters are confidential, so the truth of the matter is like an iceberg only a small part of it shows since the judiciary are so scared of public opinion if vented might get out of hand.

Like the man in Exeter-- how can a stupid Judge deny a man his human right to see his child, I wonder if the tables were turned the judge would be happy with the situation?

Many mothers mentally abuse children to hate their father using the child as a way to get at the absent parent, the only person who suffers is the child since abused turn out to be abusers, and society pays in the long run.

But the feminist movement think this is fair game and have hoodwinked society to make out their such charmers, and the likes of the NCPCC what a waste of time they are full of wind but don't know what is going on, I was told by one employee they don't do anything about mental abuse, you just got to wait until the child grows up and sees things for themselves!!! But the damage is done by then.

If everyone was allowed to say how dissatisfied in the law then perhaps the Government and the sexist CFCASS organisation (please go to Dewars research for his report on them) might change but thanks to the system we are stuck with this terrible situation.

The only people who suffer from all this is the children, Is it not time for society to get wise and start making amends.

Posted by The father of a mentally abused child on November 29, 2006 5:23 PM
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Given the mounds of evidence that men are being systemically discriminated against, and not only in family court ( See Paul Nathanson & Katherine Young's excellent pair of studies on this topic, " Spreading Misandry ", and " Legalising Misandry " ), to ask this question is to answer it in a very loud affirmative. Put it another way; were such events being done to women, to mothers, would the question be at all necessary ? Exactly.
Posted by Andre Lieven on November 29, 2006 5:11 PM
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The situation here in America isn't much better; fathers aren't considered as anything more human than a walking cash machine.
I have spent what would have been more than the equivalent of the cost of my daughter's college education just to be even somewhat relevant in her life. What a waste of futute resources.
The saddest part is that the county Domestic Relations agencies ENCOURAGE this strife as they get matched, dollar for dollar, for every penny they extort out of fathers. How sick being extorted by my own government.
Posted by Ben on November 29, 2006 4:57 PM
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It happens to women too! Some men are the same as the women, want your money but will not allow contact: I am one of those women I haven't seen my son for over a year.
Posted by emily on November 29, 2006 4:29 PM
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News headline:

1) Are we guilty of ignoring fathers' rights?

2) newsflash, the earth is not flat !!
Posted by jack D on November 29, 2006 4:26 PM
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As a male in this "woman's world" I have to watch or hear some ridiculous stories, where I know, if it was the other way around the fan would be covered brown. I see women hitting men on tv, I hear of the men that kill their children while the women who do so the stories get buried; there have been two reecently after the big stories in Crete. We hear the news on the radio every week about "domestic violence" which strangely although has no reference whatsoever to men on women, does not count if it is women on men violence, despite the fact that I and many other men have been abused in our previous marriages. I have struggled to see my daughter in the last seven years but have finally reached the "milestone" of shared residence, where I should be "happy with what I've got" when the reality is that my daughter needs more than that, as the care from my ex is somewhat lacking, although the judge thought low standards were fine for my daughter, caring more what the mother thought than my daughter's actual wishes through a trained CAFCASS officer who listened to her wishes separately from me, but apparently was biased because she did not agree with the mother. Some years before I had a Cafcass officer who did nothing for my daughter and he was a "skilled and dedicated professional". Gender bias in the courts is rife. They want the business in court, as they must surely know I cannot sleep every night for wandering what I can do next to protect my daughter's health dispite of the authorities. Thank you for caring. But no one in this country does except people involved in this debacle. Everyone else lets it fly by because it does not affect them. They all wish we would shut up and go away at the end of the day. I wish I could.
Posted by Daniel on November 29, 2006 4:17 PM
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Isn't there one lawyer, judge, CAFCASS worker or even minister who is prepared to post to this discussion and justify this terrible family justice system and explain why, as some have claimed, we should be proud of it? Is there really any doubt that it is a national disgrace, that it destroys families and lives and that it should be replaced with a fair and equitable system as a matter of urgency? Perhaps one of the brave souls who jeered and heckled Telegraph columnist Cassandra Jardine at the recent Family Justice Conference would like to speak up?
Posted by Nick Langford on November 29, 2006 4:01 PM
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Dads are very much viewed as a nuisance by the divorce industry . In the view of the female dominated social services industry, upon divorce a man turns from a loving father to a potential wife beating paedophile. We have virtually no rights except to pay our ex partners money which they then use to deny us contact with our kids. I fear that things will only get worse now with the destruction of the one effective organisation that had the courage to ask for equal rights, F4J.

I am reduced to begging on the doorstep of my ex wife's home to see my 8 year old son who is well aware of his bargaining position. My 9 year old daughter calls me on her mobile every night for a bed time story as her mother blocks most contact and my expensively won court order to see my son is ignored. Until we stop the gender biase against men that is so endemic and entrenched in our society (most men sing along to the feminists chorus)then the situation will only get worse.
Posted by R. on November 29, 2006 3:54 PM
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The crux of the matter is failure to have the stomach to jail women for breaches of agreements because they are "non violent". There is no such compunction about men who are presumed to be violent. Children and houses are the fine men must pay for a failed marriage.
Posted by edward bourke on November 29, 2006 3:46 PM
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I divorced my first husband when our children were 4 and 1. I wanted shared custody on the basis that if the children could not have both of us all the time, they could have one of us for half the time. I eventually got him to agree and for twelve years we have made it work. THe children spend one week with me and one week with him, changing on a Friday after school. It is hard, because you have to stay civil towards someone you may not even like anymore. But the children flourish because their parents can be civil to each other, can attend parents evenings together and present a united front at all (well most!) occasions. Our daughter achieved 10 A*s and 2 As in her GCSEs this summer - what better proof that joint residence can work?
Posted by Vicky on November 29, 2006 3:44 PM
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I read with interest the column and stories of fathers. The problem, it seems, is worldwide, at least in the West. Here in Canada some fathers are driven to the wall financially and emotionally. Some of them commit suicide. It used to be that mothers that were left by their husbands were extremely bad off, however the pendulum of Family Law has swung way over to the other side. I always advocated for the rights of mothers, but now the time has come (is overdue)to fight for the rights of exhusbands and fathers. By the way I am the mother of a son who is almost at the end of his rope, and feels victimized to the point that even his career is being destroyed.

Posted by Ruth on November 29, 2006 3:38 PM
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My daughter is 4.5
Every day of my relationship with her mother I am reminded that if I cross her I may lose the thing dearest to me. I have supported the pair of them since birth. The mother has never contributed a penny. Why does society put a good hard-working taxpayer in this position? I even thought to myself "what if I stayed at home and she worked and paid all the bills and gave me spending money"? Then said "that's absurd - unfair on her". But then thought the law says that me doing this for her for the last 5 years is not only fair on me, but entitles her to continuing support. Bizarre.
Posted by steve on November 29, 2006 3:36 PM
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I am a grandmother. My son's fiancee took their
2 week old baby back to her mother's and won't
allow him to bring the baby to see us. We think
she is suffering from post-natal depression, but
she won't seek treatment. My son is being
systematically squeezed out of his child's life by
his fiancee's family as his fiancee plans a life of a
single parent on benefits. At 21 he has a good
job, loves the girl and adores the baby. It seems
he was only required for his DNA and the child
support he will now provide. I can't see it ending
anywhere other than the courts where he is likely
to receive little sympathy, I suspect. So cruel and
so sad.
Posted by Kim on November 29, 2006 3:36 PM
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I think there is a tragic irony here in that thousands upon thousands of children are being brought up in Britain today - where our birthrate outside wedlock (and any meaningful relationship) has soared beyond the level of most western states - by single mothers in the complete absense of a contribution: financial, emotional or otherwise, by their fathers.

That some men try so hard to gain access to their kids and to provide for them after the relationship with the mother has ended for whatever reason - yet hundreds of thousands of feckless men don't give a toss about the women they casually impregnate as they skive their way through life - is a damning indictment of the Welfare State.

I would venture to say that the complete failure of the CSA is evidence that the government is on the side of the view that it is OK if men take no part in child-rearing beyond begatting the offspring - why else would a raft of easy benefits reward single motherhood? We are only a notch down from all children belonging to the proletariat not their parent(s).

The tragedy for many fathers is that where children remain with the mother she is able to constantly feed them negative feelings about him - and often begins the process of conditioning them to view her new partner in the parenting role to the exclusion of their father, even when he contributes strongly to their upkeep. That is why we have groups like Fathers For Justice.
Posted by simon coulter on November 29, 2006 3:32 PM
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The foregoing merely serve to show one thing - that the law is an ass and should be reviewed. The presumption in favour of the woman needs to be stopped and a cold, clear and logical decision taken - oh sorry, that can't happen with the messed-up mentality of our so-called "social services". As long as this kind of abuse of fathers continues, we will continue to see squatters on judges' chimneys, Buckingham Palace Balconies, etc. Wake up everybody.
Posted by Had Enough on November 29, 2006 3:17 PM
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Being English with a Spanish ex-wife, I can say that things here in Spain are similar to the UK, with the courts almost exclusively favouring the mother when it comes to awarding custody of the children.
The situation is not helped by the fact that almost every day the press reports a severe beating or murder of women by their (ex)-husbands or (ex)-boyfriends, maintaining the general view that the victims are almost always the wives or girlfriends. While no sane person can condone this violence, more press coverage on the reasons that drove these men to commit such desperate acts would certainly help to raise public awareness of the blinkered discrimination that occurs in the divorce rulings.
Certainly the worst contract that a man can sign here in Spain is the marriage one - not only does he gets penalised if he breaks it but also if the other party breaks it !
That said, apparently things are now changing with the introduction of "shared custody", although when applying for it recently my lawyer told me not to get too optimistic because the judges are still very reluctant to award it even when the child wants it too. We will see !
Posted by Steve on November 29, 2006 3:11 PM
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When I discovered my first wife was having
several affairs behind my back in the late 1970s I
finally decided enough was enough and filed for
divorce. The court decided that our two children,
then aged 9 and 6, were to live with their mother
and I accepted that reasonable access would be
an appropriate part of the settlement, along with
a very generous cash payment that bought a
house as well as ongoing child support and
alimony. In order to rebuild my life I emigrated
to the US, knowing that I would be able to visit
my children and at least continue what had been
a very loving and special relationship.

How wrong I was! Many thousands of pounds
later I discovered that "reasonable" is a legal
term that has no meaning except that it provides
fat fees to lawyers to try to work out a definition.
I bought the children airline tickets with
assurances from British Caledonian that they
would be well looked after. At the last minute
the social workers on the case decided that
exposure to the US would be bad for the children
and the tickets were never used.

I hired a private detective and he was able to dig
up the fact that my ex-wife was continuing to
have affairs that often meant the children were
left at home on their own for hours on end.
Many years later an ex-colleague confirmed this
to have been the case as he was one of her

Did this information make any difference? None
whatsoever. Finally, after 7 years I saw my
children again. The circumstances were far from
pleasant as my son attempted to commit suicide
(a cry for help, he used a blunt knife on his
wrists) and I was told that from then one I would
have to take responsibility.

Even though the children are now fully grown
and I have grandchildren there remain problems
and I occasionally receive condemnatory e-mails.

I would like to think this is a one-off example
but I know for a fact that many fathers are in far
worse off situations. At least I have had a good
job and could afford the legal costs. Not
everyone is so fortunate.

Social service workers and counsellors need to
read this thread and maybe they would begin to
understand just how much harm they cause.
Judges must be held accountable as well for
many of the idiotic rulings that are made.
Posted by Name Witheld on November 29, 2006 2:58 PM
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All these posts have a common theme - the absence of family rights - equal parental rights to exercise responsibility towards one's children.

Children of both sexes conditioned to this value set of seeing one or both parents treated with contempt are set the very worst example in life. We have a generation of children being inculcated with values which are totally counter-ethical to the basic tenets of a free and just society.

Furthermore, they are being taught to be selfish, to consider that there is a hierarchy of importance, children first, mothers second, fathers third. Basically, their fathers are not being treated as human beings at all.

And the worse the family situation, the worse they are treated.

The parallels with slavery are obvious. Slavery consisted of treating a whole class of people as second-class or non-human, without rights, and once these values became culturally assimilated, they became exceptionally difficult to eradicate.

These are not fathers' rights issues - they are family rights - separated family issues. The whole family suffers. Once these values are established, they go from generation to generation. Children are not taken out of poverty by being supported only with their mother - if they spend time with a poor father their experience is of poverty and discrimination as well. Such policies make the children of separated families poorer, whilst politicians claim they are richer, or the children lose their father, itself a form of poverty.

Often the argument used to justify this violation of our human rights to be responsible in our own families is that it is in the child's best interests. The question here is "according to who?" Why should a judge decide what is in our children's best interests? The legal threshhold right now is simply if a case goes to court.

In law we still retain what is called parental responsibility. Responsibility without rights of decision? Children telling their parents what to do? Mothers "allowing" or denying fathers access to children?

Small wonder that the common denominator in separated families is often the abandonment of responsibility one cannot exercise.

I speak as a father who has attempted to act responsibly for over ten years now, whilst being denied all contact, not by the mother - she does not have this power, but by the judicial system - which does. Yes, parents bear some responsibility, but our whole system encourages and supports family breakdown now, and we all live within this climate of fear.

I am living the equivalent of an open prison sentence as a socially marginal non-person, having been charged with no crime, recognised as a good father with a child who has clearly expressed a desire to be with both her parents as equals. None of this has mattered. Our separated family had its ups and downs, but we had a very happy and flourishing child - clearly recognised and acknowledged by judges and teachers alike. This in no way prevented the most extreme official measures to deny my child all contact.

So much for any claim that separated families are defective - it is crystal clear in our case that it is human rights abuses by the system which are at fault. So much for any claim that separated fathers act irresponsibly - acting responsibly in such situations is a living hell.

It seems frankly amazing to me that people do not see the implications of this abusive system. We cannot claim to live in a free democracy if our access to our children is determined by judicial discretion - it's a tyranny. Those with the strongest sense of responsibility for their children are most discriminated against - the system favours the oppressor. All of these abuses are being hidden by secrecy in court proceedings - another hallmark of authoritarian states. The socially weakest, divided families, are worst treated. Need I say any more, the results are plain for all to see?
Posted by Julian on November 29, 2006 2:57 PM
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As my daughter said, she would be devasted if she did not know me. And yet the court system does not start from the principle that both parents have equal "rights" and should have equal access. If it did, this two tier system of, usually the Mother, having first class status and the Father second class status would be stopped in its tracts. The practical day to day arrangements may well work out that the Father only has access every other weekend, but if there were difficulties one would refer back to the guiding principle of equal access and that might have a salutory effect upon the Mother. She would be aware that the Courts could just as we
November 29, 2006

Using a chart published in a 2005 U.N. Population Fund report -- which the U.N. agency now says was misleading -- a London Daily Telegraph article published in Nov. 13 editions of The Washington Times incorrectly stated the frequency of wife abuse in India. The agency says that it does not have sufficient data to provide such a figure and that the chart was intended to show that 70 percent of Indian women who were abused by their husbands think such abuse is justified in at least some circumstances.
Critics slam Tory decision to close most Status of Women offices    
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Heritage minister Bev Oda responds to a question during Question Period. (CP PHOTO/ Tom Hanson)
   Martin O?Hanlon, Canadian Press
Published: Thursday, November 30, 2006 Article tools
Printer friendly
  Font: * * * * OTTAWA (CP) - The Conservative government is taking an axe to Status of Women Canada, closing three-quarters of its regional offices and outraging critics in the process.

Heritage Minister Bev Oda revealed Wednesday that 12 of the federal agency's 16 regional offices will be shut down by April 1.

The blow is part of a cost-cutting program announced in September that will see the agency lose $5 million from it's $23-million annual budget over two years.

Status of Women Canada works to advance women's economic equality and human rights and eliminate violence against women.

Oda said the regional offices do little to serve women directly and money can be better spent by streamlining services.

But Liberal MP Maria Minna called the move "reprehensible."

"Canadian women are still only earning 71 cents to every dollar earned by their male counterparts, more and more women are living in poverty, and we are still waiting for the government to create child-care spaces," she said.

"With the closure of these regional offices, the government is taking away one of the very few remaining resources for women."

Minna said the closures are a clear sign that Stephen Harper's Conservatives plan to completely dismantle Status of Women Canada.

Oda insisted that women will be better served despite the budget cuts and the office closings.

"I'm very surprised that the opposition would say, "Put money back into inefficiencies," when you can find inefficiencies and streamline the operations.

"What these offices don't necessarily provide is the help directly to women. There was a lot of lobbying groups, there was a lot of advocacy.

"We don't need to separate the men from the women in this country. . . This government as a whole is responsible to develop policies and programs that address the needs of both men and women."

Oda said the closures will save on unnecessary rent and utility bills and she claimed that even with $5 million in cuts, there will be $700,000 more for women's programming.

She also said women in regions will be able to get service from office of the Canadian Heritage Department.

However, New Democrat MP Irene Mathyssen wasn't buying it.

"These closures will not improve women's status in Canada, nor will it make Status of Women more efficient. This is part of a wider assault on ordinary Canadians and will result in numerous job losses.

"This minister is not fulfilling her mandate. She is not protecting Canadian women, nor is she pushing for their equality. Rather, she is abandoning them altogether."

The Commons status of women committee plans to hold two extra meetings in early December to discuss the situation.

Of the 16 regional offices, only Ottawa, Edmonton, Montreal and Moncton will be spared.

© The Canadian Press 2006
Underage sex woman faces prison  

Yvonne Renton had denied having sex with boys aged 14 and 15
A Kent businesswoman found guilty of having underage sex with two teenage boys employed by her has been warned by a judge she faces a jail term.
Twice-married Yvonne Renton, 39, of Tufton Road, Gillingham, was convicted at Maidstone Crown Court of having sex with the pair, then aged 14 and 15.

The jury found her guilty of four counts of indecent assault and one count of intimidation.

Renton has been bailed until sentencing on 4 December.

She had denied the charges during the five-day trial.

Judge Jeremy Carey told Renton: "The jury... were impressed by the two victims of your depravity, for that is what it was."

 You took advantage of two 14 and 15-year-old boys in circumstances of which you should be deeply ashamed

Judge Jeremy Carey

During the trial the court heard she paid the boys £10 a time to help her set up bouncy castles for her children's entertainment business, which she has since sold.

The first victim, who is now 19, had claimed they had had sex about three or four times a week.

However, when he tried to break off the relationship she had threatened to take an overdose, or said she was pregnant.

Jurors were told the boy suffered from psychiatric problems and had started to self-harm to release the anger he felt over the situation he was in.

'Ridiculous claims'

It was alleged Renton began a relationship with the 14-year-old boy when the mother of the older boy confronted her.

She had told him that he had made her pregnant and that she had an abortion, the jury heard.

Renton had described the claims as ridiculous and said nothing inappropriate had happened with either of the boys.

Judge Carey said: "You were a mature woman in a marriage state with children and you took advantage of two 14 and 15-year-old boys in circumstances of which you should be deeply ashamed."

Sentencing was adjourned to allow Renton, who has an 11-year-old daughter and a 19-year-old son, to make childcare arrangements. She is estranged from their father, her ex-husband.

Judge Carey added: "You should brace yourself for what will in all probability be a custodial sentence."
Survive Your Doctor: How to Get Out of the Hospital Alive

We imagine hospitals as havens from illness and accidents, but they're also home to bacterial booby traps and medication mistakes. Here's how to leave healed, not hurt. Part three of a three-part series.
By Erin Hobday and Ted Spiker, Men's Health; Photograph by Nathaniel Welch

More on this in Health & Fitness

   Reveal Your Abs in Record Time
   Survive Your Doctor
   Who Needs A Doctor?

Roger Weber didn't look pregnant when he entered the hospital. But after undergoing what should have been straightforward hernia surgery in 2001, he developed a severe infection that left his stomach so swollen he resembled a National Enquirer headline come to life. Five years later, complications from the infection--not the hernia--have wrecked the 55-year-old's body. "My life is a mess," he says, still in disbelief.

Such horror stories have become shockingly familiar in American medicine. The wrong pills harm 1.5 million patients each year. Overwhelmed E.R.'s constitute a national health crisis. Infections from hospitals are now the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States, in part because when doctors come to your bedside, close to half of them haven't washed their hands--an omission that would be deemed unsanitary by the fast-food industry.
Don't wait until the paramedics are wheeling you into the medical equivalent of Merle's Lube & Tire to worry about your care. By then, it may be too late. Arming yourself with information now is the first step to surviving a hospital stay when the time comes. Sooner or later, it will.
While You're Still Healthy
Download a health dossier
Doctors are health detectives, so give them as many clues as possible by gathering all your medical data. At the very least, you need a list of medications you're taking (including dosages); your medical history, immunizations and allergies; the name and phone number of your doctor; lab reports; and copies of recent EKGs and MRIs. You can create a file with paper copies and laminated sheets of the EKGs--or carry it all on your key chain: "Make electronic files and scans and save them on a portable USB drive," says Kevin Pezzi, M.D., a former emergency-room physician and the author of True Emergency Room Stories. (The best way is to save everything as PDFs, which can be read by virtually any computer.) When you're finished, label the USB drive "medical info," so doctors can spot it in an emergency.
Will this be time consuming? Absolutely, but here are just a few reasons why it's worth it:
•   Knowing what and how much medication you're taking can help doctors come up with a speedier diagnosis. "Some medications can have the side effect of causing fainting," says James Giglio, M.D., chief of emergency medicine at New YorkPresbyterian Hospital. "If someone's been fainting, a medication history may prevent us from embarking on a lengthy and expensive search for the cause."
•   It helps provide context for emergency physicians. "If an E.R. doc runs across a patient who has a heart murmur, the patient often won't know what type it is, how long they've had it, if it's new or old," Dr. Pezzi says. By providing instant unfiltered access to everything that's ever been committed to paper or printout about your health, you'll remove one of the E.R. staff's biggest handicaps to helping you.
•   Listing your doctor's contact information will help save critical seconds in the event that he needs to be reached for a quick consultation on something in your file. "A patient may say he sees Dr. Smith in Salt Lake City. You can imagine how difficult this person would be to track down," Dr. Giglio says.

Read the Series:
•   Part 1: "When I Was Wrong"
•   Part 2: The Junkie in the O.R.
•   Part 3: How to Get Out of the Hospital Alive
More on MSN Health & Fitness:
•   Message Boards: Do You Trust Your Doctor?
•   Message Boards: What's Wrong With the Hospital?
•   Do You Really Need That Yearly Checkup?
•   5 Steps to An Accurate Diagnosis
•   5 Questions Men Don't Ask Their Doctor
•   5 Questions Women Don't Ask Their Doctor

Identify the best hospital
The time to decide where you want to be treated in a nonemergency situation is now--not when you're coping with a cancer diagnosis or wrestling with the reality of a blocked artery.
Start by visiting to see which hospitals in your area have been vetted by the national health-care watchdog group the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Another good tactic: click here for a list of the 100 most-wired hospitals, which are probably using the latest information technology that helps reduce medical errors. If a particular hospital isn't on the list, call to see if it has one key advance: bar-coded processes for dispensing medication. With this system, nurses scan the medication bottle and the patient's wristband to confirm that the correct drug is being given--a huge step in decreasing medication errors.
You should also review a hospital's infection rates, if they're available, but don't give too much credence to numbers that haven't been "risk adjusted." "Just because an infection rate in a small, community hospital is 1 percent and at an academic health center it's 10 percent doesn't mean the small one is 10 times better," says Elaine Larson, Ph.D., R.N., a professor of nursing at Columbia University who specializes in infection control. It could mean that the bigger hospital is seeing more high-risk patients, not that it's less clean.
Last step: Find out the patient-to-nurse ratio. Ideally, it should be four to one, according to new research in the Journal of the American Medical Association. For every additional patient a nurse needs to tend to, the risk of dying on that nurse's watch increases by 7 percent.

Before You Head to the E.R.
Call your doctor
What you may perceive as being E.R. urgent may be something that your primary-care physician can handle in his office, or something that can be taken care of in a less-crowded immediate-care center. The exception: chest pain. "There's nothing an office-based doctor can do to be of the slightest assistance in treatment of a heart attack," says Dr. Giglio. Well, actually, there is one thing he can do: Meet you at the E.R., which will probably get you faster attention than if you were wheeled in alone. Call 911, then call your doctor.

When You Speak with the Triage Nurse
Be descriptive
You'll be seen sooner, diagnosed quicker and fixed up faster if you can articulate exactly what's wrong to the triage nurse, who signs patients in, takes their blood pressure and temperature, and sets the order in which they're seen based on severity of symptoms. Most important: Pinpoint your pain's location and describe it using analogies (e.g., "It feels like a knife in my chest"). The alternative? "I saw a man sit outside with a dislocated shoulder for three hours. That's a triage-nurse error," says Susi Vassallo, M.D., a professor of emergency medicine at the New York University school of medicine.
Be specific
" 'Dizzy' can be a very vague term," says Dr. Giglio. "It might mean they feel like they're going to pass out, it might mean they feel off balance, or it might describe a foggy feeling. Dizziness can be a common medication side effect, or it could be a sign of a heart attack or stroke."
Be honest (most of all)
To decrease your risk of adverse drug interactions, come clean about everything you've been dropping down your gullet. "You'd be surprised how many people don't tell the truth--what medicines they might have already taken and what things they take regularly, like illegal drugs, or ones for bodybuilding, or Viagra," says Dr. Vassallo.
While You're Sitting in the E.R. Waiting Room
Stay on their radar
This summer, a 49-year-old woman complaining of chest pain died in an E.R. waiting room outside of Chicago. To make sure you see a doctor this decade, bring a friend or family member who can nudge when necessary. "He or she can also let the nurses know if your condition changes," says Richard O'Brien, M.D., a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians. Plus, that person can ask critical questions about your diagnosis and treatment that you may forget to ask.
Don't read the magazines
If you have kids with you, tell them to keep their hands off any toys littering the waiting room. When British researchers recently swabbed the surfaces of 12 toys in an intensive-care unit, including items brought into the hospital by patients' families and friends, they found 50 percent of them swarming with various strains of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus. Bacteria and skin cells from patients are easily transferred to inanimate objects, which, unlike medical equipment, are infrequently cleaned, says lead author Jacqueline Randle, Ph.D.
When You Speak with the E.R. Doctor
Create a timeline
Telling the doctor when your symptoms started (and subsided) is almost as important as relaying what they felt like. "The time sequence can provide clues to the diagnosis," Dr. Giglio says. For example, if a sudden numbing, tingling, or shooting pain in your back started months ago as a little tweak, the E.R. doctor needs to know. "Our job is to find the relatively small number of people who have back pain due to a serious infection or metastatic cancer," says Dr. Giglio.
Discuss your vital signs
Sometimes a man will enter the E.R. with a high ankle sprain and exit with high blood pressure. That's because, even if you have a straightforward injury, a nurse will check your vital signs, opening up the possibility that a hidden condition will be detected. "Men should always follow up with their doctors after an E.R. Visit," says Dr. Giglio.
Include the minutiae
Divulge details that aren't in your medical-info file, such as dentist visits and recent trips. Why? Dental work exposes patients to infection, and travel increases the odds of a blood clot or an unusual disease. "If a patient doesn't tell me they went to Brazil last month, there are going to be infections that won't even cross my mind," says Dr. Giglio.
Take a whiff
Emergency rooms are fast paced, so it's hard to know when a doctor's or nurse's hands last saw a sink. "If I don't have time to wash, there's an antiseptic foam used in emergency rooms that kills both bacteria and viruses," says Dr. O'Brien. "You'll know someone used it, because it smells like cheap gin."

Research your doctor
Maybe you already know and trust the doctor handling your case. And if so, great. But if he's a stranger, run a basic background check to make sure he practices medicine, not mayhem. Go to, a site that provides links to every state's medical board or health department, and look for its database of physician profiles. In addition to basic info on education, most of the sites also list disciplinary actions and malpractice claims.

Enlist a drug pro
You've probably never heard of a clinical pharmacist, but having one on your case can reduce the risk of medication errors and adverse drug reactions, according to a study review in the Archives of Internal Medicine. "They improve patient care by monitoring high-risk drugs, interacting directly with patients and providing comprehensive medication instructions after discharge," says lead author Peter Kaboli, Ph.D. If the hospital doesn't employ a clinical pharmacist, ask if a staff pharmacist can perform some of the same functions.
Use a condom
A condom catheter, that is. University of Michigan researchers surveyed 75 men who had been catheterized using either an indwelling catheter or a condom catheter, which has a silicon sheath that fits over the penis. Not only were the condom catheters more comfortable, but the men who used them were half as likely as their counterparts to develop urinary-tract infections. They come in five sizes, so be picky about fit.
When You're In a Hospital Bed
Flash your doctor
Grab your camera phone and take a photo of your physician. In a recent Mayo Clinic study, researchers found that patients with a  snapshot of their doctor were better able to identify him. This in turn may help cut down on the number of medical mistakes caused by giving information to the wrong medical personnel.
Know who's who
"Some patients assume that every man in a scrub suit is a doctor," says Dr. Pezzi, and they pass information to whoever comes in the room. But that guy could be a clueless med tech, increasing the odds of a medical mistake. Make sure all people identify themselves, and  convey changes in your condition only to doctors and nurses.  
Check for leaks
If someone wears a surgical mask too loosely, air--and germs--can escape through the gaps. "Usually it's the doctors doing it, not the nurses," says Dr. Pezzi. Look to see that their masks are snug.
Demand clean hands
A small percentage of health-care workers are compulsively clean, but "others wash their hands only when they think they've gotten them dirty," says Gail Van Kanegan, R.N., C.N.P., coauthor of How to Survive Your Hospital Stay. Ask for a pump dispenser of alcohol-based hand sanitizer and put it on your night table--the staff will get the hint, as will your friends and family.
Scope out the stethoscope
While he's hearing your heartbeat, bacteria are hopping on your body. Ask your doctor to sanitize his stethoscope. Just as effective: a disposable glove over its diaphragm, or an antimicrobial coating called AgIon.
Sanitize yourself
The infection risks from sharing a toilet seat with an incontinent roommate are obvious. What isn't so apparent is the risk you pose to yourself. "More often, organisms that cause infections come from the patient's own homegrown flora," says Larson. Protect yourself by slathering your hands with that alcohol-based sanitizer as if your life depends on it.
Dose up on aspirin
Swallowing 325 milligrams a day can halve your risk of developing a staph infection, says Ambrose Cheung, M.D., a professor of microbiology at Dartmouth College. "Aspirin can activate the stress response of staph bacteria (including the superbug MRSA), which keeps it from adhering to your tissue." Ask your doctor and pharmacist before adding a medication to your drug regimen.
Protect your bed
Tell visitors that if they truly wish you a speedy recovery, they should take a seat in a chair, not on your sheets. In a study in the British Medical Journal, researchers found that a combination of infection-control strategies that included eliminating visitor contact with a patient's bed was able to stop the spread of MRSA and reduce the number of infections by 70 percent. "This is one measure that patients can really control," says Leela Biant, Ph.D., the lead author.
Next: When the Nurse Comes Knocking

When the Nurse Comes Knocking
Pop the question
As in, "How long have you been doing this?" The ideal nurse has been in the same unit, the same specialty and the same hospital for more than a few years. (Don't assume that an older-looking nurse is the most experienced. "More people are going into nursing when they're 40 or 50, and they may be less experienced," says Sean Clarke, Ph.D., R.N., associate director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research.) Because of the current nursing shortage, you may not have much choice in terms of who cares for you, but if you have concerns about inexperienced nurses, talk to the nurse manager.

When You're Ready to Leave
Update your USB
Ask for lab results, copies of scans, a list of medications, and other reports. (You won't be able to obtain your medical records right then and there, but put in the request now--in person.) When you receive the new information, add it to your portable USB drive.

Don't depart on fatal Friday
Research has shown that survival rates are lowest among patients who end their hospital stays on Fridays. And even those who live have a higher chance of being readmitted to the hospital within the month than people released on any other day of the week. Scientists suspect that because doctors are swamped at the end of the week, they spend less time providing patients with postsurgery instructions. The best day to depart if you want to avoid an eternal exit: Sunday.
5 Medical Tests that Do More to Improve Your Doctor's Fiscal Health
Don't be so free with your pee. Johns Hopkins University researchers recently found that during a typical doctor visit, 43 percent of patients will undergo at least one unnecessary test. Physicians do this to avoid malpractice suits or, more often, to pad their pockets, says Jon Skinner, Ph.D., a professor of family medicine and economics at Dartmouth College. Here's how we get probed for profit.
The Johns Hopkins study showed that 37 percent of patients underwent an unwarranted urine test. "It might seem harmless, but a simple urine test can lead to an unnecessary biopsy, which can be painful, inconvenient and potentially dangerous," says Dan Merenstein, M.D., the study's lead author.
An abnormality will pop up in MRIs of the back in 64 percent of healthy people, Skinner says, which can lead to "a medical fishing expedition" involving further invasive testing and surgery.
EKGs were the second most commonly overused test performed on healthy patients in the Johns Hopkins study, and previous research has shown that 20 percent result in false-positive diagnoses.
An x-ray may not nuke you the way a CT scan can, but it's still radiation. Be on guard if the doctor's office has a machine.  
Full-body CT scans
They aren't as accurate as advertised, many insurers refuse to cover the cost (they can run you as much as $1,000) and research has shown that the amount of radiation your body is exposed to may increase your cancer risk.

Rate response times
It's the most critical part of the nurse-patient relationship: They come when you call. If no one arrives within two or three minutes of when you pull the cord or push the button, your care could be compromised in an emergency. "You can't expect every request or concern to be acted on immediately, but every patient call needs to be checked out relatively quickly," says Clarke. As with the issue of experience, discuss slow response times with the nurse manager.
Be wary of bling
When scientists at Rush University medical center in Chicago analyzed the hands of 66 nurses, they found that the ring wearers had 10 times more bacteria than the bare-fingered bunch. One theory is that bacteria colonize in the microscopic space between ring and skin, and are then protected from being washed away. Scan the hands of doctors, nurses and anyone else who wants to touch your body, and request that any jewelry come off before a rescrub.
Triple-check your meds
Do it even if you're being shadowed by a clinical pharmacist. University of Pennsylvania researchers recently found that over the course of just one month, more than 25 percent of the 502 critical-care nurses evaluated had made at least one mistake, usually with medication. A nurse is supposed to double-check to make sure that the patient is receiving the correct medication; you can provide the triple-check by asking what it is and why you're getting it.
When Surgery Is Scheduled
Run the numbers
If your surgeon seems too eager to operate, check out the Dartmouth Atlas of Healthcare's Web site. There you can compare rates of the most commonly overperformed procedures by region, city, or hospital. "In some places, back-surgery rates are 10 times what they are in others. And it's not because the people there are 10 times more likely to have back problems," says Jon Skinner, Ph.D., a professor of family medicine and economics at Dartmouth College. "It means some doctors like to do back surgery and think it works, while others are more conservative." Or they're running a scam. A few years ago, the FBI arrested two cardiologists for doing hundreds of unnecessary bypasses.
Scrub off the bugs
Five days before scalpel meets skin, start taking two showers daily, washing with an antiseptic cleanser like Hibiclens, which contains the antibacterial agent chlorhexidine gluconate. "Some studies show that it reduces the risk of infections," Larson says.
Opt for a.m. surgery
Duke University researchers analyzed data on 90,000 surgeries and discovered that patients whose procedures started near 9 a.m. were four times less likely to have anesthesia complications--nausea, post-op pain, fluctuating blood pressure--than those wheeled in around 4 p.m. Blame fatigue and overbooked doctors arriving late to the O.R.
Empty the O.R.
Can too much care kill? A new Dartmouth study shows that the more money a hospital spends on a single patient's care, the poorer the outcome of the treatment. More cash means more physicians per patient, says Skinner, the lead author. "It's hard to get eight or nine doctors to agree and communicate well." Ask that unnecessary personnel, such as medical residents, be kept out of the O.R.
Get tucked in
Before you go under anesthesia, ask for an extra blanket. The combination of a cold operating room and anesthesia can lead to mild hypothermia, which can slow the post-op healing process.
Confirm the cut
A few years ago, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations created a new protocol to help reduce the chances of a surgical mistake. It's a smart system--assuming it's used, and used properly. Be sure that the mark indicating where to cut is . . .
•   on the incision site. Writing "don't cut here" on a healthy area can look like "cut here" if the ink smudges.
•   direct--either a doctor's initials or "YES." An X is ambiguous--it could be read as "keep out" or "X marks the spot."
•   written in permanent marker that won't fade after your skin is washed and prepped for surgery.
•   written only by the surgeon.
Up the H20
Hydration equals healing. "In order for your body to heal, the cells must have sufficient amounts of water," says Van Kanegan. "[If you're dehydrated], you're at risk of infection, pressure sores, electrolyte imbalances, heart irregularities and other complications." Shoot for eight 8- to 12-ounce glasses of water a day in the weeks before your hospital visit.
Next: When You're Ready to Leave
Mother gets life in adopted boy's hammer death

Michigan woman didn't seek help as former foster child slowly died

Updated: 12:13 p.m. ET Nov 28, 2006

LANSING, Mich. - A woman who hit her 7-year-old adopted son on the head with a hammer and didn't seek help while the boy slowly died was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Lisa Holland, 33, was convicted in October of first-degree murder, and the sentence was mandatory.

Ingham County Circuit Judge Paula Manderfield choked back tears -- as she did earlier this month when sentencing Holland's husband, Tim Holland, to 30 to 60 years in prison for his role in the death of Ricky.

"Basically you buried your dog, but you threw away your child," Manderfield told Lisa Holland, citing trial testimony.

The case led to ongoing scrutiny of the state's child-protection system and whether workers did enough to protect Ricky and his siblings.

The Hollands initially claimed Ricky had run away from home in July 2005, sparking a nine-day search by 1,700 volunteers and hundreds of law enforcement officers.

In January, Tim Holland led police to the body in a rural area and admitted dumping his son's remains. He told authorities his wife hit Ricky in the head with a hammer while he was away from home.

Holland said nothing as she was sentenced. "Lisa Holland is going to be punished; the jury has spoken. Lisa Holland wishes to maintain her silence," said Mike Nichols, one of her attorneys.

Tim Holland testified that his wife had abused the boy for years, restraining him with ropes in the basement. He said the boy was listless and unable to walk in the last week of his life -- not eating, drinking, walking or talking, and smelling of urine.

The Hollands became Ricky's foster parents in 2000 and adopted him in 2003. They also adopted Ricky's three younger siblings and had a child of their own.

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Scientists develop male birth control pill

Single dose, hormone-free drug prevents ejaculation of sperm

• U.K. scientists develop The Pill for men
Nov. 28: British scientists have developed a single-dose male contraceptive pill that can be taken just before a date. They say it does not cause any side effects. NBC's Dawna Friesen reports.
Today show


• New male pill in the offing
Nov. 28: Researchers from King's College London have developed a non-hormonal contraceptive pill for men, based on drugs used for schizophrenia treatment. Drs. Christopher Smith and Annaemeka Amobi from King's College explain their findings in more detail and Rebecca Findlay from the London Family Planning Association comments on the social aspects of the male pill, which could be on the market in 5 years.
NBC News Web Extra

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By Jane Weaver
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Updated: 2 hours, 21 minutes ago

Jane Weaver
Health editor


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When it comes to birth control, it may finally be the guy's turn.

British scientists are developing a male birth control pill that could put a smile on the faces of a lot of women, according to a report by NBC's Dawn Friesen on "Today" Tuesday. The hormone-free pill, which prevents the ejaculation of sperm, could be on the market in five years.

The pill, a single dose taken a few hours before having sex, affects contraction of the muscles that control ejaculation, but wouldn't interfere with performance or orgasm sensation, researchers at King's College London say. The result is a dry ejaculation.

Story continues below ↓


"It's not stopping sperm production," Dr. Christopher Smith told NBC News. "It's not a hormonal method. It's just simply stopping the muscle which takes the sperm along."

The scientists found the solution after noticing that drugs used in the treatment of schizophrenia and high blood pressure were effective at preventing ejaculation, according to a report in the British newspaper "The Guardian Unlimited."

The pill would be more user-friendly than other male contraceptive methods such as vasectomy, injections or implants, researchers told NBC.  

"Within half a day, the sperm is on the move again," says Smith.

If the pill passes clinical trial, it could be a significant benefit for people who are anxious about long-term effects from hormones.

 Click for related content
Fruits, veggies may affect male fertility

But if men can't remember to take out the garbage, will they remember to take the birth control pill? Moreover, some men, worried that it could damage their virility, may object to taking any kind of pill.

"We know from international research that men want to take part in fertility control," Rebecca Findlay from the London Family Planning Association told NBC. "It could be quite liberating for couples.

The pill would not prevent sexually transmitted diseases, she said.

© 2006 MSNBC Interactive
History and Politics / Boys Stir Us
Nov 28, 2006, 04:01 PM
Boys-Stir-Us book launch
Date: Thursday 26 October
Time: 4.30pm
Venue: University Art Gallery, University of the Sunshine Coast campus

The Boys-Stir-Us book launch is for invited guests.

This book is about boys! Significantly, it examines how the neurological and physiological development of boys is often at odds with the educational contexts they are placed in for a good part of their lives. A user-friendly look into contemporary research is offered as a means of examining 'boyhood' through a neurological lens. The overall intent is to identify ways of working with boys in a proactive and positive fashion.

Book: Boys-Stir-Us: Working WITH the hidden nature of boys (Hawker-Brownlow Education)
Author: Dr Michael Nagel, Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of the Sunshine Coast
History and Politics / The anxious years
Nov 28, 2006, 02:52 PM
The anxious years

November 27, 2006

Page 1 of 6 | Single page


Learning to grapple with raging hormones, erratic attention spans and a desperate need to belong is no small challenge, Elisabeth Tarica reports.
ABOUT 20 teenage boys and their fathers coil around a camp fire on a shivery spring night. The conversations are powerful, often emotional, and surprisingly honest accounts of what it means to be a man. Questions about sex, drugs, being in love and growing up may be embarrassing for the young men but their fathers answer without mawkishness or blokey guffaws.
The aim is to help the boys navigate the complex teenage years, a time ruled by raging hormones, erratic attention spans and a desperate need to belong.
Camping out is the final part of Wesley College's three-day Boys to Men course at the Clunes campus near Ballarat, where year 9 students spend a term of the school year.
"It shows them that men can have feelings and not be embarrassed about it," says Robert Grant, who heads the program. "I admire the courage of the boys to ask questions in front of a group of men and the fact that there are genuine attempts to answer them so honestly."
Fathers were invited to take part as role models four years ago after Mr Grant read a newspaper article that encouraged them to become more involved in the classroom.
"It gives the boys the opportunity to talk about issues affecting men in a totally male environment. It's about them trying to find out who they are and why they are. They are learning what it is to be a man and they see what that means from their own father."
Educators believe one of the most reliable predictors of whether a boy will succeed or fail in high school is whether he has a man in his life to look up to.
A new national youth survey by Mission Australia has highlighted the importance of male role models in school settings - where most teachers are now female. It indicates that many boys turn to trusted friends and parents for advice and support. More than 70 per cent of those who took part indicated their parents were one of their main sources of emotional support.
The middle years of schooling have been identified as the hardest, especially for boys. It is a time they are most at risk of losing interest. Learning tends to plateau - many tune out, some drop out.
Positive male role models - whether they are fathers, teachers, relatives or sportsman - are critical. But not everyone has role models to identify with at a time when they seem to need them most. The increase in single-parent families means boys might have only limited contact with their fathers, missing out on much-needed guidance at what psychologists consider a critical stage.

Schools such as Debney Park Secondary College tackle problems like these through applied education programs. Courses designed to boost self-esteem by encouraging students to make mistakes, take risks and learn from setbacks are now as much a part of the curriculum as maths and English.
Such programs can fire up learning for those important later years, says the school's student welfare co-ordinator Elaine Templeton.
The state-run secondary college in Flemington zeroes in on boys at risk - those who miss class, have anger problems or have lost interest - and moves them into specialist programs such as an all-boys basketball team, training with the Melbourne Tigers, or 10-weeks of martial arts therapy.
Every Friday afternoon a group of 14 boys bounds into the school gym for the martial arts class. "They don't wag, they turn up and they're there and they're waiting, and that's a really good sign," says Ms Templeton. "The aim is to give them some tools through martial arts discipline to deal with difficult emotions. It is not teaching combat skills, it's more about how to internalise the self-discipline that comes from martial arts."
Learning martial arts, combined with the stark reality of hard-luck stories from those who have turned their lives around, has struck an important chord with the teenagers. "It's also about people who have been in difficult situations, who have gone off the rails talking about how they learnt to deal with their anger to control their behaviour," Ms Templeton says. "There's some concern that the boys who live on the Flemington estate have role models that could lead them in the wrong direction, so it's giving them some skills to be able to pull back from that sort of thing as well."
Peter Egeberg, principal of Thornbury High School, says male role models for boys are crucial. "A lot of primary schools have mainly female teachers and a lot have no male teachers at all," he says. "And often there's no father, or kids don't live with their father, so there can be a lack of appropriate and positive male role models."
It is estimated that only one in four primary school teachers are men and many secondary schools' staff ratios are skewed, leading to criticism that the classroom has become "feminised". The argument is that if boys have only female teachers, how will they learn to be men?
There is compelling evidence here and overseas that the performance of boys is going backwards. There is much debate about why, including the theory that the sexes have different learning styles; girls show better communication and social skills while boys have more trouble with literacy, a skill that underpins classroom learning more than it used to.

But one of the main questions being asked is whether part of the reason for boys' problems is the lack of men in schools. A 2002 House of Representatives standing committee inquiry into boys' education found there was no single cause for boys' relative underachievement at school. However, the inquiry reported, factors could include the decline in male teachers, schools not paying enough attention to boys' different learning styles, and that boys were more likely to respond negatively to poor teaching.
The Federal Government has since committed $19.4 million to the Success for Boys initiative for professional learning. It has also invested $8 million in the Boys' Education Lighthouse Schools project, which helps schools develop teaching strategies to improve boys' performances.
Thornbury's Mr Egeberg says the matter of boys' education is complex but what really matters, regardless of the gender of the teacher, is the quality of teaching and learning.
Thornbury High School doesn't have specific gender programs but Mr Egeberg had to put together a year 8 class just for boys to balance the sexes in other classes this year.
The results have surprised him. "The boys are doing incredibly well and a lot of that has to do with the positive relationships that they have with their teachers," he says. "Boys often talk about the need to like their teacher before they can engage in learning."
It's a complex world for adolescent boys. Research shows that teenage boys are more likely to be unemployed, be involved in a car crash, have problems with the law, experience alcohol and substance abuse or commit suicide.
By the age of 15, boys are three times more likely than girls to die from all causes combined but especially from accidents, violence and suicide.
Not surprisingly, alcohol and other drugs were the top concern for boys aged 15 to 19 in Victoria in Mission Australia's national youth survey.
Adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg says one teenager will die each week as a result of drinking and another 60 will be admitted to hospital. "These figures are horrendous, and I think kids feel an enormous pressure to drink," he says.
Dr Carr-Gregg, a consultant psychologist for the Victorian Association of Secondary Schools, says friends, closely followed by family, academic performance, drugs and depression are important matters for teenage boys. "The number one concerns for parents about their kids are drugs and depression," he says. "But they should be just as concerned about anxiety because that's as much of a problem, if not more so."

He says the number one concern for the teenagers is fever-pitch anxiety about subject choice and ENTER scores, an anxiety that can have a serious impact on their health, relationships, and performance at school.
"At no other time in your life will you be lined up and compared with 60,000 other people. And we're doing this to them at a time when they're most vulnerable. It's a stupid system."
Anxiety about school work was ranked as one of the top concerns for Victorian boys aged 15 to 19 in the national youth survey, alongside alcohol and other drug problems, coping with stress, family conflict, body image and suicide. The survey also highlighted a worrying trend that boys are just as concerned about body image as girls - as the pressure to mirror muscular bodies portrayed in the media increases.
More than 800 Victorian teenagers participated in the survey, which asked them to rank 12 topics by level of importance. The "body image" category was listed for the first time this year.
"I think we as a community have forgotten that the images young males are getting are as powerful as they are for young females," says Anne Hampshire, Mission Australia's national manager of research and social policy. "We kind of thought they didn't mind, but clearly what they're seeing in the media and what they're seeing in themselves shows that they are very conscious of it."
It also seems they are not afraid to talk about it. Pressure to be muscular, sporty, have sex, be liked by your friends, popular with girls and academically successful - all at the same time - are weighty matters discussed at Wesley's overnight camp.
But, Robert Grant says, it is important to look past the stereotypes to celebrate and recognise the good things about being male. "Then there is a better understanding of what it means to be male, what sort of things you need to think of, about how we need to look after ourselves and the way we interact with each other as males," he says.
For help or information visit, call Suicide Helpline Victoria on 1300 651 251 or Lifeline on 131 114.
Father and son
Melbourne scientist Geoff Stretton and his 15-year-old son David recently spent the night camping with 20 other teenagers and their fathers in Clunes. The camp was part of Wesley College's Boys to Men program, which brings boys and their fathers together for no-holds-barred, honest exchanges about becoming a man.

Father says:
"It was tremendous, I wish I'd done something similar when I was my son's age. I don't think the discussion we had would be something that I would set up and talk about with my son.
"The course was targeted to get fathers to talk about their experiences and relate the sort of things they went through when they were the boys' ages.
"There was a lot of time spent talking about drugs, both hard and soft, opportunities both now and in the future and peer-group pressure.
"It wasn't difficult to be honest. Most of the fathers were very frank and open about the situations that we were in, and that was why the session was so useful.
"There was quite a bit of discussion around alcohol and harder drugs. Some of the fathers had had experiences with drugs, nothing particularly heavy, but relating their experience was useful.
"The experiences of the dads and the openness of the conversation and the fact that the questions were often well-thought-out and not easy to answer hopefully gave the boys a tremendous insight into what their fathers had experienced from the time they were 15 and into their working lives.
"I walked away from it thinking if only I had done this when I was 15 I'm sure it would have helped me."
Son says:
"I learnt a lot about what it's like to be both a male teenager and a man in the 21st century. I learnt about male emotions, and the characteristics of a good male. I know there are ups and downs about being a male, but we all have different ways of overcoming these.
"At the camp-out, all the older men really got involved and started talking about life experiences. All the boys asked questions, ranging from academic issues, to drugs, relationships and leaving home.
"It was really interesting to learn about the mistakes that the older men had made and the way that they'd overcome their problems. The morning after the camp-out, the older men ran a session on what they thought were important characteristics of a good man.
"The main lesson I got out of that was to be respectful and honest to others so that they might respect you. That is probably the biggest thing that I'll take out of this course, because I don't want to live my life with enemies. If I die without enemies, then I know that I'd have very few regrets."
- As told to Elisabeth Tarica
What's worrying you?
Looking good, appearance, what clothes you wear, how your hair is, stuff like like that, and there's pressure from family to do well at school. There's not really any pressure at this stage of my life to have sex, boys don't talk about that much."
- Dylan Sweeny, 14
Everyone is changing in different ways. I am very short but I don't mind that so much - it's just that you never know what's going to happen. You never know whether you're going to be short forever. You're told you could grow tomorrow. There are people who have grown up already but then there are people who are still sitting back. Everyone's at a different stage and it's hard to keep up."
- Geoff Skelt, 14
Friends, issues with fights and general problems. My group doesn't have bullying as such but there is bullying in the school that I am aware of. I'm talking more about peer pressure, fitting in and getting along. I've had body image problems as such, feeling fat but I know I'm not."
- Stewart Mason, 14
I always try to be good at my work. I think that's the main thing because you only get one chance. People think that you've got to be popular. I think it's good to represent the school in sporty things but it's really important to do well academically."
- Mitchell Fairlie, 14
Probably the organisation, keeping up with the work, that's the main thing. There's pressure to be academic, you get in competition with your friends. In sport, you also try to be better than people."
- James McKendrick, 13
Father of girl slain by mother channels grief into new law

The Associated Press

UNION, N.J. - Anguish has marked John Giovanni's life since his ex-wife bludgeoned their daughter to death nearly two years ago. First there was the news of the killing, committed as the teen slept. Then there was the moment he looked into her casket and realized how badly damaged her body was even after morticians did the best they could.

With his ex-wife's sentencing fast approaching, Giovanni now is channeling his grief into the statement he will read in court, and by pushing for harsher penalties for anyone who kills a child in New Jersey.

Nicole Giovanni, 14, was beaten to death as she slept in February 2005 by her mother, who used a hammer and a shovel in the gruesome pre-dawn attack.

"When I had to look in that coffin, I saw the damage," her father said last week. "It was horrible. She struck Nicole 12 to 15 times in the back of the head. It was a private service; I didn't want Nikki's friends to see her in that state. No parent should ever have to go through that."

The girl's mother, Lynn Giovanni, 47, is to be sentenced Friday to 30 years in prison, and must serve at least 25 1/2 years before becoming eligible for parole under a plea deal she struck with prosecutors last month.

Executive Assistant Prosecutor Robert O'Leary said Nicole's plans to leave her mother and go live with her father played a role in the killing.

"We all speculated it was to get back at dad because she was going to live with him and she wouldn't have any control over her," he said.

Neighbors and relatives have said Lynn Giovanni was depressed and dealing with financial problems shortly before the killing.

Her public defender, Peter Liguori, declined to speak on her behalf, saying his client had expressly asked him not to. A message left with her mother, in whose Roselle Park home the killing occurred, was not returned.

The Giovannis were divorced eight years before the killing, and had endured a stormy relationship. She wrote a self-published book under a pseudonym complaining about the court system and accusing her ex-husband of abuse. Part of the book advocates killing an abusive spouse or partner as they sleep, prosecutors confirmed.

He denies abusing anyone, and said she was verbally and physically abusive to him and Nicole, who was an accomplished student at Roselle Catholic High School and a member of the track team.

"She was bright, articulate, an honor student," John Giovanni said. "She had everything going for her. Why she (her mother) took her life, I'll never know. How can you kill a child - anyone's child, let alone your own child?"

A self-employed contractor, Giovanni has been working for the past month on the victim impact statement he is to read at his ex-wife's sentencing.

"This is beyond cruel and evil," he wrote. "Lynn Giovanni brutally slaughtered my precious 14-year-old daughter Nicole. She was defenseless and asleep. Why did you have to kill her? She was only a child! Your child! My child!

"A part of me died when Nicole died," the statement reads. "My heart has a huge void in it that can never be filled. I will never see Nicole driving her first car, graduating from high school and college, starting a career, getting married and having children, and blessing me with grandchildren. I think about Nicole every day and I cry."

John Giovanni said two weeks before the killing, Lynn called him and said she wanted Nicole to go live with him.

"Lynn said she was having problems with her, that she was running away and that she was nothing but trouble," he said.

They agreed that Nicole would move in with her father in two weeks. A week later, she was dead.

John Giovanni is working with several state legislators to get a new law passed that would mandate life in prison without parole for anyone convicted of killing a child aged 16 or younger. Currently, mandatory life sentences are reserved only for those convicted of killing a child in a sexually related assault.

Assemblyman Neil Cohen, D-Union, said he hopes lawmakers will vote on the bill in December.