I’ve long been aware of the breakdown of the traditional family unit, hence my consistent involvement with the Centre for Social Justice. Today, one in four children are brought up by a single parent and in ninety per cent of those cases it is the mother who is raising the children, leaving a huge lack of father figures in homes across the country. Sometimes there may be a man living with them, but he’s not their father and often these temporary father figures don’t stay long and probably only add to the insecurity in a child’s life.
Now I’m certainly not in any way trying to put down women or men who for whatever reason are looking after their children alone. There are many one-parent families across the country whose children never go near a gang or get into trouble and I think that we should celebrate that fact. There are young people who despite all the pressures upon them make courageous choices to stay out of gangs and away from trouble.
But, through my research for my new book, Fighting Chance, I explore the complex drivers that turn young people towards gangs, there seems little doubt that the lack of a good, consistent and present father figure who can provide a positive role model is a major contributing factor in young people turning to gangs for an albeit distorted version of that role.