SINGLE PARENT FAMILIES - PITFALLS
A modern and quite worrying phenomenon is the rise in the number of single females with one or more children. It seems many young women rush to get pregnant and worry about the consequences afterwards, in the full knowledge the state will look after them from that time on.
Unsavory as this may be, this also presents a danger to single males who may be enticed into a relationship they would not otherwise entertain by various means, which we will go on to investigate. The fact is that once a single man joins a single parent family, and provided the children don't put him off within the first few months, he will become smothered by circumstance.
In the early stages of the relationship, the new family member is promised anything to overcome objections to the relationship continuing. In the belief these promises are real, he might let go of his other commitments, and this is almost inevitable, since relationships absorb time like a council wastes money.
About a year in, children begin to think of the new addition to the family as a permanent fixture. If a male, he becomes the substitute father, with all that entails. Boys and girls have very different needs. Boys are generally easier for a substitute father to engage. They like all the things most men do: Cars, boats, planes and motors. Girls on the other hand are not so easy to find common ground. Girls like dancing, pink clothes and babies.
After considering the above, you may agree that it is easier for a single bloke to join a single mum with a young boy, than a young girl (or a mix) and you'd be right - unless the bloke is a homosexual, when he might at first share some common ground with a girl!
With the increase of in depth and very realistic television programs on the subject, plus the increase in sex education at schools, single parents and their children learn ruses to trap a partner on a long term basis. Let us suppose things are not working out. All the promises the single mother made to trap her mate have been systematically abandoned. Financial pressures may cause problems, or perhaps the mother's parents start chiming in to squeeze more from the hapless bloke, who is now outnumbered at least 3:1 or more.
Let us say the single chap decides for the benefit of his sanity, he must try to salvage his earlier life. Unless, the single mum changes, he is left with little choice, but at this point, single mother's really pour on the pressure. This may result in shouting matches, where previously a cross word was not exchanged. The single mum will try her best to get a wedding ring on her finger. She may threaten suicide.
However, that is nothing compared to making allegations that may take away a blokes freedom. The classic is crying rape, or the threat of crying rape, where any half sensible mother, or child armed with accurate portrayals from their favorite TV series, usually succeed in persuading the authorities to mount an investigation on mere say so.
The problem for the unwary male, is that he may not know what is going on or read the warning signs before it is too late. Here are a few things to watch out for:-
It follows that less attractive mothers may stoop lower than more attractive women, who will simply move on to another target. It is of course harder for a single mother, the older she gets.
Commonly, single mothers and/or their children will seek attention or revenge at the close of a relationship. In the worst cases if all else fails, mothers may take their own lives. It is rare for a child to do so, they will more usually claim molestation - and they don't need to prove it. The police frequently prompt children and when these prompts are strung into a coherent performance, they will then record the child for a convincing video display to a jury or judge.
Children may rehearse themselves or with friends, especially those keen on acting, or actively taking acting or dancing lessons at school. The type of school also plays a part in priming the children. A school that has a reputation for loose sexual behavior between pupils, may be a breeding ground, where girls and boys boast about their sexual encounters. Girls, in particular those without boyfriends will not unnaturally feel left out. Hence, the less attractive girls, or those who for other reasons that do not interact with the opposite sex, will be more likely to invent experiences. They may hang around teachers during lunch breaks, since they may get male attention this way - and if you are a teacher, watch yourself. In the words of Sting: "Young teacher, the subject of schoolgirl fantasy".
Hardly surprising then that there are many instances of false convictions, some examples of which are given elsewhere with links to other sites.
Whichever of these scenarios takes place, the effect on the partner leaving may cause long term and lasting damage to their life. If the woman commits suicide, that will haunt him forever. If he is wrongly convicted of rape or assault, he may serve many years before discovery, or the injustice may never be identified.
Hence, be prudent. Don't rush in where life seems like heaven. If at all possible agree everything in writing - a bit like a pre-nuptial agreement. The moment something agreed, is not done - leave. There is no known association which supports single males, unless they are a carer or teacher.
(Falsely Accused Carers and Teachers)
for education staff and volunteers in schools
We will be following an interesting case in Sussex, England, since the law has changed. A girl of 14 going on 15 alleges assault (touching +) since 11. The allegations follow the break up of a 3 year long relationship with am overweight mother claiming suicidal thoughts in the early stages of the relationship, with reminders. Some three months after the girl believed her mother's boyfriend was not coming back, and after another rejection by her natural father, she alleged assault in the preceding years.
Is this an attention seeking cry for help, a mental disorder, blackmail, or did these events take place? PA 20-11-06 (Full and exclusive rights to this story available)
A Tough Job
Perhaps you are one of the 23% of young people living with a single parent? Maybe you've only ever had one parent, your parents have got divorced, they were never married in the first place or your family has been torn apart by bereavement. Whatever the reason for living in a single-parent family, you'll be pleased to hear that there's no evidence to support the fact that young people with one parent fare any worse in life than those with two. In fact, many young people who've lived through years of parental conflict and divorce find that life with a single parent is far more stable and happy. Certainly, a single parent family, where the mother finds a new boyfriend, is likely to cause the children additional issues, where previously they had free reign.
Lone parent life
All out war
A single parent is a parent with one or more children, who is not living with the child[ren]'s other parent. The legal definition of single parenthood may vary according to local laws of nations or provinces.
Single parenthood may occur as a result of loss (death, separation, divorce, abandonment by one parent), or by choice (single parent adoption, donor insemination, egg donor/surrogate motherhood, choosing to carry to term an unexpected pregnancy and raise the child on one's own).
More than 25% of children in the U.S. live with only one parent (U.S. Bureau of Census, 1997). Research about the welfare of children in single parent families varies. Many factors influence the outcome of how children fare: parent's age, education level, and occupation, family income, family's support network from friends and extended family members (including the absent parent if available). Further, outcomes in families where single-parenthood is chosen is frequently better, as the single parent is typically older, has established employment and social supports, and has considered the pros and cons of raising a child alone.
Single parent demographics
In 2003, 14% of all Australian households were single parent families. Since 2001, 31% of babies born in Australia were born to unmarried mothers.
The following information comes from One Parent Families, a British charity for lone parents. For more information see .
Today in the United States, being raised by a single parent is not uncommon. About three in ten children live in a single parent home. The most common type of single parent home is one with only a mother. However, single father homes are the fastest growing type of family situation; the amount of single fathers has grown by 60% in the last ten years alone. This commonly relates to the courts increasing consideration of the stability and permanence of the father's situations.
Loss of a partner may cause the single parent to be financially burdened due to the fact that one of the "breadwinners" is gone. If the single parent is the breadwinner, he or she has less opportunity to work than before, when another parent was available, unless another person is available to care for the child or children. Thus, initially in all divorce situations, the costs of maintaining a household increases, and the pool of skills needed to maintain a household is halved. The commensurate reduction in parental supervision and training for the children is charted in a variety of increases in social indicators, such as increased juvenile delinquency and increased unmarried teen births.
The mass media in America tends to portray the majority of single mothers are impoverished, from urban "ghettos" or rural areas, from racial minority groups, promiscuous or "loose", and even militant feminists threw out or abandoned their "abusive" husbands (sometimes they are "deadbeat dads") unable to help pay the bills or refused child-rearing responsbilities.
Not every single mother has these traits, and the majority of them are white (despite the prevalence of single motherhood in the African American and US Latino communities), most lived in the suburbs and small towns, originally came from the middle-class though poverty has accompanied single motherhood, never involved in multiple sex partners, and of course a representation of single mothers in broken marriages without an issue of neglect or misogyny.
To generalize a single mother adds onto social stigmas relating to her choice in having a baby, or this occurred by random incidence (divorce, abandonment or out of wedlock). Social scientists don't want to overexamplify traits and child care/support activists come to their defense. In fact, most single mothers have any type of support by family or/and close friends.
Single motherhood is by far the most common instance of single parenting; in the US, single mothers outnumber single fathers four to one. Single mothers may have a hard time providing for their families.
Some studies conclude that women generally have lower paying jobs (though other studies have found that the wage gap, or Income disparity, is largely due to choice, not discrimination).
In the US, a large percentage of single mothers have children in a younger age than most married mothers, and more of them failed to graudate high school or/and unable to finish college education, thus aren't able to have an average wage or income, a difficult situation unless there are welfare and health care programs available to support her and child.
Thus, single mothers must contend with both financial and child rearing burdens. If a parent makes less money, and thus has to work longer hours, she has less time for her child.
In the US and western countries, painful social stigmas related to single motherhood has disappeared in the 1990s by ongoing cultural changes to accept single motherhood as a lifestyle choice, despite conservatives objected to it as liberalism or over moral and religious objections.
In several studies in Europe and America, children of single mothers are psychologically unaffected by their circumstances than once thought, and they dealt with theories on the outcome of male children who grew up with only a female parent.
Society continues to stereotype boys/men of single mothers as "weak" or "gentle", and even debunked theories of proneness to criminality, depression, suicide, poverty, drug abuse, unemployment, and failure to maintain a sexual/romantic relationship.
In the U.S., fathers make up about 20% of single parents. The role of fathers, married or single, has been changing. Today, fathers are more likely to help children in a classroom setting and do household chores than in the past. Historically, fathers were not socialized to be primary caregivers, although many men did raise children on their own due to high rates of maternal death. The financial and lifestyle hardships of single fathers is similar to those of single mothers.
Female children living in a single father home are less likely to reach menarche at an earlier age than those living in two parent homes.
The scales of injustice
The government's criminal justice reforms, proposed in the recently published White Paper, are based on a 'single clear priority' to 'rebalance' the criminal justice system 'in favour of the victims of crime' and to 'bring more offenders to justice'. The explicit goal is to make it easier for the prosecution to secure guilty verdicts and to convict more people. This would seem to be at odds with the reality of criminal justice in England and Wales. The prison population stands at an all time high of over 70 thousand and the prosecution already achieves the conviction of over 95 per cent of defendants at magistrates' courts and 87 per cent of defendants in the Crown Court.
The White Paper seems to be to forget that that not all of those brought to trial will be guilty. A reform agenda framed in a language of 'putting the victim first' overlooks the fact that there are many victims of the present criminal justice system. Any human system can make mistakes, and that miscarriages of justice can and do occur. But, just how many miscarriages of justice victims of the present system are there?
We tend to think about miscarriages of justice as rare and exceptional occurrences. Prominent cases such as the Birmingham six, Guildford Four, Bridgewater four, M25 three, Cardiff three, Stephen Downing, and so on create the impression that miscarriages of justice are seen as very much an intermittent, high profile and small scale problem; that there are very few victims in the context of the statistics of all criminal convictions. But there are many more cases than those which receive prominent coverage in the media. Those cases of criminal conviction that are routinely quashed by the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division), or by the Crown Court for convictions previously obtained in the magistrates' court have received no attention at all.
If we pay more attention to these routinely quashed convictions, we find a scale of miscarriage of justice to fundamentally challenge any notion that the current system of criminal justice is weighted too much in favour of the defendant.
The Lord Chancellor's Department's statistics on successful appeals against criminal conviction show that in the decade 1989-1999 the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) abated over 8,470 criminal convictions - a yearly average of 770. In addition, there are around 3,500 quashed criminal convictions a year at the Crown Court for convictions obtained at the magistrates' courts.
Contrary to popular perceptions, then, wrongful criminal convictions are a normal, everyday feature of the criminal justice system - the system doesn't just sometimes get it wrong, it gets it wrong everyday, of every week, of every month of every year. With the result that thousands of innocent people experience a whole variety of harmful consequences that wrongful criminal convictions engender.
Justice for All also states that there is an 'absolute determination to create a system that meets the needs of society', 'wins the trust of citizens' and 'acquits the innocent'. Accordingly, the government might think about proposing reforms that would counter the causes of the thousands of routine wrongful criminal convictions that occur each year under the present criminal justice system. These (still) include misdirection by judges which is the most common cause of routine successful appeals; unreliable confessions such as in the cases of Robert Downing, the Cardiff Newsagent three, Andrew Evans, and King and Waugh who between them spent almost a century of wrongful imprisonment based on the unreliable confessions of the vulnerable.
Financial and other incentives which created unreliable 'cell confession evidence' that featured most recently in the case of Reg Dudley and Robert Maynard who each served over 20 years of wrongful imprisonment as a consequence of a 'bargain' between the police and an informant who received a reduced sentence for his part in a robbery in exchange for the necessary evidence for conviction; non-disclosure of vital evidence as in the case of John Kamara who also spent 20 years of wrongful imprisonment because over 200 statements were withheld from his defence team; malicious accusations such as in the case of Roy Burnett who spent 15 years of wrongful imprisonment for a rape that the Court of Appeal said 'almost certainly never happened', or Roger Beardmore who spent three years in prison (of a nine year sentence) for the paedophile rape of a young girl who later admitted that she had lied to get her mother's attention; badly conducted defences such as in the case of Mark Day who was convicted for murder with two others despite the fact that he did not know his co-defendants, a fact that his defence failed to bring to the court's attention; and, 'racism' such as in the case of the M25 three, the case in which three black men were wrongly imprisoned for 10 years despite the fact that witnesses had claimed that two of the offenders were white and four of six victims had referred to at least one of the offenders as white. And this is by no means exhaustive list of the causes of injustice.
When thinking about proposing reforms of the criminal justice system to reduce the conviction of the innocent it might also be pertinent to include some of the possible causes of miscarriages of justice that might never feature in the official statistics of successful appeals. Likely candidates include the 'time loss rule', under which when the wrongly imprisoned apply for an appeal they are advised that if their appeal is ultimately unsuccessful it could result in substantial increases to their sentence. The effect of this is to transform what was intended as a minor check on groundless applications into a major barrier in some meritorious cases. There are also the miscarriages of justice that can result from charge, plea and sentence 'bargaining' and the 'parole deal'. All of these induce innocent people to plead guilty to criminal offences that they have not committed and present a 'dark figure' of miscarriages of justice that can never be fully quantified.
It is clear that the present system of criminal justice is, indeed, in urgent need of reform. But this should not be in the direction of a relaxation of the system in favour of obtaining more guilty verdicts and convicting more people. Rather, the present system needs to a reformed in the direction of 're-balancing' it with its stated aims, namely, to safeguard against convicting of the innocent. The present system makes far too many mistakes. Convicting more of those brought to trial will undoubtedly mean making even more mistakes and convicting even more innocent victims.
Michael Naughton is a postgraduate researcher looking at the harmful consequences of miscarriages of justice in the Department of Sociology, University of Bristol.
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Email Observer site editor Sunder Katwala at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments on articles or ideas for future pieces. You can write to the author of this piece at M.Naughton@Bristol.ac.uk.
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