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Fathers aren’t needed say MPs: Commons decides IVF babies can do without a male role model

Evening Standard 21 May 08

Fathers were last night effectively declared an irrelevance in modern Britain. The requirement for fertility doctors to consider a child’s need for a male role model before giving women IVF treatment was scrapped by MPs. In a free vote, they swept away the rule despite impassioned pleas that the Government plan would “drive another nail into the coffin of the traditional family”. Labour rebels said it would send entirely the wrong signal to society as Britain faces a crisis in responsible parenting.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, had warned it would remove the father from the heart of the family. He accused the Government of putting the interests of “consumers” who want to become parents before the welfare of children. But in the Commons, ministers won support for the legislation.

MPs reject need for father in IVF (UK)
BBC News 20 May 2008

MPs have voted to scrap laws forcing clinics to consider the need for a “father and mother” before allowing women to seek IVF treatment. Iain Duncan Smith led the cross-party bid, saying the absence of a father had a “detrimental effect” on a child. His plan was defeated by 292 votes to 217. Currently, IVF clinics have to consider the “welfare” of any child created, including the need for a father. But the government wants the focus instead on “supportive parenting”. MPs also opposed a further bid to ensure there is a “father or a male role model” before fertility treatment, by 290 votes to 222. The issue of the role of fathers in IVF comes in the second day of committee stage debate of the controversial Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, aimed at updating laws from 1990.

…On Monday, MPs voted down a cross-party attempt to ban hybrid human animal embryos. Roman Catholic cabinet ministers Ruth Kelly, Des Browne and Paul Murphy voted for a ban, while Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Tory leader David Cameron both opposed it. A bid to ban “saviour siblings” – babies selected to provide genetic material for seriously ill relatives -was also voted down.

‘Father’ to go from birth certificates (Aust)
Sydney Morning Herald May 18, 2008

A CONTROVERSIAL new bill that will remove the word “father” from birth certificates to recognise lesbian couples who have children through IVF will be put before NSW Parliament. Fifty laws across NSW covering the Local Government Act, Industrial Relations Act and the constitution will be amended to include new parental presumption protection for female same-sex couples. The bill equates the position of a lesbian partner of a woman who has a child after becoming pregnant by a fertilisation procedure, other than sexual intercourse, with the position of a married woman’s husband. Lesbian parents will see expressions such as “birth mother” replace “mother” and “both parents” to replace “the father and the mother” on birth certificates.

Lesbian parents will also be given protection for their children under workers’ compensation, inheritance law and parent-teacher nights at school. Schools will also be forced to recognise both partners in a lesbian couple as “parents”. The conservative Australian Family Association is campaigning against the change. Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby spokeswoman Emily Gray said the changes would give children added emotional and financial stability.

Male postnatal depression affects child behaviour, study shows April 16 2008

Postnatal depression in fathers can have long-term psychological effects on their children, a new study reveals. The babies of depressed men are twice as likely to suffer from behavioural problems in later years as those whose fathers are not depressed, the Children of the 90s survey by the University of Bristol found. The results reflected the father’s role in socialising their children and raised questions about the age at which children become sensitive to their parents’ moods, researchers said. Psychiatrists warned that the findings could be a portent of future social problems as paternal postnatal depression becomes more widespread.

Postnatal depression is said to affect about one mother in 10 but is less well recognised, and more controversial, in new fathers. Different research has found that 3-10% of men are affected. “Conduct problems at this age are strongly predictive of later serious conduct problems, increased criminality and significantly increased societal costs,” Paul Ramchandani, an Oxford University psychiatrist, wrote in the paper, which was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry this month.

Boys and their toys? It’s biological, not social
Telegraph (UK) 07 April 2008

Boys prefer playing with cars to dolls because of basic biological differences rather than social pressures, scientists say. Researchers observed young male monkeys spent more time playing with vehicles than with cuddly toys. They believe this suggests that in most cases boys have an innate predisposition for masculine toys, which is then reinforced by what they learn from their parents, friends and wider society.

Dr Kim Wallen, a psychologist at Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia, studied a group of captive, mainly juvenile male and female rhesus monkeys. The animals were offered two categories of toys – ones with wheels such as wagons and other vehicles, and various dolls and cuddly toys including such as a Winnie the Pooh. In a series of videoed experiments one of each type of toy was placed 30ft apart to see which monkeys would be attracted to which category. In most cases the monkeys formed a group around one of the toys and eventually one of them would snatch it and run away.

…Their conclusion contradicts those of the dominant psychological theory that the preference of boys for vehicles and toy soldiers and that of girls for dolls is down to social rather than innate influences. Dr Wallen, whose study is published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, and highlighted on, said: “A five-year-old boy whose compatriots discover has a collection of Barbies is likely to take a lot of flak.”

Poll reveals we’re still smacking our children
NZ Herald May 26, 2008

The Smacking Debate. Almost half of parents with children under 12 have smacked them in the past year, a survey has found. The Family First lobby group commissioned a market research company to poll New Zealanders on their attitudes to parental discipline since the anti-smacking law came into effect in June last year. It found that 48 per cent of respondents with children under 12 had smacked their child after the law change. The changes to the Crimes Act outlawed the use of parental force against children for purposes of correction. The issue polarised New Zealanders. The law change was led by Green MP Sue Bradford, whose private member’s bill removed from the Crimes Act the statutory defence of reasonable force to correct a child. But it was passed only after last-minute changes, approved by a large majority in Parliament, which directed the police not to prosecute inconsequential offences.

Family First’s national director, Bob McCoskrie, said he was surprised the polling found so many parents admitting they had flouted the law. He said 51 per cent of mothers had admitted continuing to smack. “For a new law to be ignored by so many people who are willing to risk a police or [Child, Youth and Family] investigation indicates just how out of step with reality this law is.”

Girls’ violence in schools on the rise
NZ Herald May 24, 2008

Reality TV and text messaging are being blamed for a big increase in girls’ violence in the school playground. Education Ministry figures show a 41 per cent increase in girls being stood down, suspended or kicked out of school for assaults between 2002 and 2006, The Dominion Post reported today. But the way violence was meted out appeared to be changing.

Secondary Principals’ Association president Peter Gall told the paper schools were seeing not only more overt physical violence by girls, but a big increase in cyber-bullying – sending nasty text messages and emails, or putting humiliating images or words on the internet. Reality TV shows based on “shaming and bullying” were also encouraging girls in particular to respond aggressively to threats or playground relationship problems. “They prioritise all the sorts of behaviours we are desperately trying to prevent.”

Social anthropologist Donna Swift, who runs a girls’ violence intervention programme, said teenage girls often used “covert” violence and aggression, such as calling others “sluts” and “hos” in group text messages sent to hundreds of others. The “Barbie Bitches” syndrome had compounded violence among girls, as they tried balancing desires to be attractive with being tough and mean.

Pedophiles use kids’ fashion ads for kicks

Herald Sun (Australia) May 23, 2008

PEDOPHILES have admitted using children’s fashion ads to get their kicks, Victoria’s Child Safety Commissioner Bernie Geary has warned. Mr Geary has also raised concerns about the premature sexualisation of children in a submission to the Senate inquiry into the sexualisation of children in the media. He said the situation was “a significant concern,”, and singled out “sexy” children’s clothing. “What benefit or satisfaction adults would obtain from purchasing children’s clothing with slogans such as ‘Ms Floozy’, ‘Mr Well-hung’, ‘Mr Pim’, ‘Mr A–hole’ . . . ‘Naughty butt nice’, ‘Bite this’, ‘$$$ Worth it’ and ‘I only look innocent’, is difficult to comprehend,” Mr Geary said. “The fact that adults purchase this sort of clothing for their children illustrates that, unfortunately, not all parents and adults make appropriate choices for children.

In his submission, Mr Geary said that professionals working with offenders had told of clients’ “interest in, and use of, sexualised images of children within advertising and marketing”. He quoted Royal Children’s Hospital Gatehouse Centre co-ordinator Karen Hogan, who said staff working with children and young people who engaged in sexually abusive behaviour had noticed “a marked increase in perpetrators using underwear advertising magazines for stimulation that are delivered to homes”. “Males tell us that they are particularly interested in the children’s section and that they can use these magazines without detection as it is so commonplace to have this material delivered to their homes,” Ms Hogan said. Victoria Police Forensic Interviewing of Sexual Offenders manager Patrick Tidmarsh is also quoted as saying such images encourage paedophiles. “What sexualised/eroticised child images in advertising obviously do is provide validation for those considering further exploitation of children and sex, as part of a pernicious descending spiral,” he said.

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