Opinion

Demand fathers' accountability

fathers' accountability The Washington Alliance Concerned with School Age Parents (WACSAP) has launched a ground-breaking campaign, CAADD (Child Advocates Against Delinquent Dads), to demand life-changing consequences for the adult males who cause most of the pregnancies of school-age girls.
   Public debate ignores adult white males while blaming and stigmatizing girls for high rates of both unintended births and welfare costs.
   In teen births, young women and children face lifelong consequences, fathers suffer none and the taxpayer picks up the difference.
   We can't expect to break this cycle until there are life-changing consequences for the fathers. CAADD's ultimate goal is to reduce teen pregnancy and move children out of poverty.
   For most teen moms, by the time their children are five, the reality is off-and-on welfare. Fewer than one percent of unmarried fathers provide ongoing support to their children from birth to age 18, yet fewer than nine percent of adult white males live in poverty.
   Research around the country confirms that approximately two-thirds of the fathers of children born to teenage girls are post high-school age.
   The National Center for Health Statistics reports that 71 percent of births to teen girls are fathered by adult men. A study by the prestigious Alan Guttmacher Institute found that 51 percent of the fathers of children born to 15- to 17-year-olds are 20 or older; 30 percent are age 18-20. On average, the younger the teen mother, the older the father.
   A study just released by the University of Washington states that 40 percent of the fathers of children born to girls 17 and younger were over 20—and 19 percent (of the 40 percent) were between 26 and 35.
   "Even if every high school male practiced complete abstinence, two-thirds of school-age pregnancies would still occur," reports Mile Males of the University of California at Irvine. Most adolescent pregnancies are simply not the result of two teenagers our of control in hormonal rushes; the large age gap suggests an uglier, hidden array of adult male behaviors.
   WACSAP research shows that up to two-thirds of teen mothers had been sexually abused as children; they learned that "just say no" does not work with adult males.
   WACSAP's CAADD initiative is committed to changing public attitides–and ultimately public policy–through:   The CAADD initiative proposes a shift in public policy that focuses on delinquent dads as a lasting "welfare reform" in place of the current "blame the victim" policies aimed exclusively at young women—at taxpayer expense. For more information, call WACSCAP AT 323-1107.

Charlie Langdon, WACSAP Executive Director