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Fatherlessness Creates Void That Cannot Be Filled

Fatherlessness is the leading cause of declining child well-being in our society, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said launching Rex McCann's book 'Fatherless Sons' at the YMCA in Wellington today.

"It is also the engine driving our most urgent social problems, from crime to adolescent pregnancy to child sexual abuse to domestic violence against women. These are not my words but a direct quote from Rex McCann's book.

"This is a quote that many New Zealanders are now willing to agree with. Only a change in the attitude of fathers to their sons can change this.

"Previous Commissioner for Children the late Laurie O'Reilly put this issue squarely before New Zealanders. Minister of Social Services Roger Sowry and current Commissioner Roger McClay have also courageously raised the issue and are personally committed to working to make a difference," said Mrs Shipley.

This book builds on the solid platform that the Mr O'Reilly built with his pioneering 'Fathers Who Care' project.

"I feel certain he would feel proud to see this book, from a New Zealand perspective, launched today. In my experience, dads value being fathers but often for themselves, not from the point of view of their children.

"The profound truth in this book is that it is written prompting adults to understand the needs of children.

"The emptiness and void left forever by an absent father is one of the most destructive elements in society. Fathers and mothers need to come to grips with the fact that this void is part of a wider social problem that New Zealand society today is faced with. We must stand in the shoes of our sons and then try to meet their needs.

"This book encourages men to dare to redefine masculinity for their own benefit and the benefit of their sons.

"I congratulate Rex McCann for his insight, commitment, sensitivity and determination to raise this issue and advance it in a constructive way.

"New Zealand's own research shows that children rejected, abandoned or excluded are much more likely to be visible in all negative social statistics."

As Prime Minister, Mrs Shipley said she is personally committed to improving the prosperity and security of New Zealanders.

"Part of this commitment extends beyond what governments can do through programmes and funding handouts. It takes others to spell out that some the answers lie within families and others who have the ability to change things for the better," said Mrs Shipley.

ENDS

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