Guest Commentary: Calling All Male Role Models — Our Children Need Your Help

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As a father of a 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son, I am saddened by recent news reports of sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and assaults especially, between authority figures and subordinates. 

Gender discrimination and behavior can and does come from both men and women; however, it’s tough to deny that men perpetrate the majority of these cases. That is why I am asking fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers and other positive male role models to participate in your local WATCH D.O.G.S. program (Dads Of Great Students).

As an attorney, I love helping my clients, and as a member of the Centralia City Council, I love helping my community. However, nothing is more important to me than being a good father and positive role model for my children. I believe that children can be taught to respect each other regardless of gender. I also believe children can learn respect through witnessing positive role models, especially positive male role models. 

That is why I joined the WATCH D.O.G.S. 

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 24 million children, that’s one out of three, live without their biological father in the home. Approximately 57.6 percent of African-American children, 31.2 percent of Hispanic children and 20.7 of caucasian children are living without their biological fathers. 

Most Americans agree with me that this is a problem, because 72.2 percent of the U.S. population said fatherlessness is among the most significant family or social problem facing America.

Research from the National Fatherhood Initiative shows that children raised in “father-absent” homes are at a four times greater risk of poverty, seven-times more likely to become pregnant as a teen and, in general, more likely to have behavioral problems, face abuse and neglect, abuse drugs and commit a crime and go to prison.

They are twice as likely to drop out of high school.

I am asking that all fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, uncles and brothers begin volunteering more in the community and at our local schools through the WATCH D.O.G.S. program. Volunteering and being an ever-present male role model is not only the right thing to do, it is the fiscally responsible thing to do. With greater poverty comes greater social program needs and greater costs to the taxpayers. With greater crime rates and greater incarceration rates comes greater costs to the taxpayers. It all leads to a cycle that we should be working to end. 

We can end this cycle together.

A growing, changing, tolerant and successful community is not an overnight transformation — it is a partnership, and it requires the cooperation of many groups and people with a common goal. Respect and positive change starts at home with your partnership, your cooperation and your relationship with family. 

Children need positive role models, both male and female.

If you would like more information about getting involved in your community, go to the National Fatherhood Initiative at Fatherhood.org, the National Center for Fathering at Fathers.com or contact your local school and consider joining the WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students).

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Peter Abbarno is a Centralia city councilor and an attorney in Centralia. He can be reached at peter@centralialaw.com. 

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