Don't blame dads!

Anthropologist dismisses suggestion that absence of fathers pushes boys into crime

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, June 16, 2018

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ANTHROPOLOGIST Herbert Gayle has debunked a popular belief that the absence of a father in the home pushes boys into a life of crime.

Dr Gayle, who noted that the philosophy is a misconception, said studies have shown that there is an increase in the presence of fathers in households, but crime and violence have still been on the rise.

Dr Gayle, a senior lecturer at The University of the West Indies, Mona, was addressing Thursday's regional back-to-school meeting at Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.

According to Dr Gayle, a 2016 study showed that 42 per cent of all Jamaican families now have an active father inside the house. “Not stepfather, a father,” he stressed.

“The United States is 54 per cent, the UK is 56 per cent, [and] Catholic countries are the only ones in the world with 70 per cent. So, a father's absence is an international problem. So, therefore, there are countries in the world where father presence is very low but they have no violence, or they have no violence [at a level] that we can talk about,” Dr Gayle continued.

“In 2001 [in Jamaica] we had 37 per cent of fathers present in homes; in 1981 we had 23 per cent; and back in 1948 the Colonial Office Micro Film data said 18 per cent. So, we know for sure that fathers' presence is growing very rapidly in Jamaica, that is clear. [But] look at the murder rate. In 1962, at Independence, the homicide rate for Jamaica was four per hundred thousand. Today it is 60 per hundred thousand,” Gayle said, noting that despite the increased presence of fathers, the country has been seeing an increase in murders.

However, Dr Gayle said, wherever fathers are scarce, one can look out for trouble.

“Not that the absent puppa trouble nobody because 25.2 per cent of the time is a jacket, as him not even di pupa,” Dr Gayle said to laughter from the audience.

“How you fi get a jacket and you are absent? You have never impregnated anybody in your life; you are simply the result of a raffle but at the end of that day, you are blamed for causing mayhem,” the anthropologist argued.

He added that a boy is neurobiologically, wired to his mother primarily, so whatever he becomes is not as a result of his father.

“If a boy walks in a school dirty every day, it is a mother's problem; it's not a father's problem. I am not saying that fathers don't have a role but it's a mother problem. Whatever the boy becomes is the mother's fault. Whatever the girl becomes is the father's fault. Thus said nature, not Herbert Samuel Gayle,” he said.

He added: “Any male here who has dated a mother who has a three-to five-year-old boy will tell you that the neuroscientists are correct. Those little boys will kick you in your shin to tell you to leave their mother. If she has a girl, the girl will actually take side with you because she is getting an additional father.”

He explained further that while the girl may be receptive, the boy would feel threatened.

“Every single repeat killer that I have worked with, especially those who have killed more than 10 people by the time they get to age 24, had their lives destroyed between [the] ages of three and five. If a woman, by the time her son reaches five, changes three to five men, the boy's life is over,” Dr Gayle stated. He said that he is yet to find an exception.

“If a child grows up to become a killer, we check for the absence of his mother or we check for fractured relationships with his mother. If a girl trust no man, chat too much, make decisions poorly, only achieve up to 70 per cent of her grades, have a poorly managed menstruation system, have pimples all over her body and doctors can't help, and I could go on, she had a poor relationship with her father,“ said Dr Gayle.

Approximately 1,200 school officials from Regions 1, 2 and 6, as well as the Minister of Education Youth and Information Senator Ruel Reid, Permanent Secretary Dean- Roy Bernard, and members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force were in attendance at the meeting.

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