The Daily Telegraph
Fatherlessness driving crime as home life ‘threadbare’
FATHERLESSNESS is fuelling crime as family life becomes increasingly “threadbare”, according to a leading prison reformer.
Lord Farmer, a former Conservative Party treasurer who has conducted reviews of prisoner rehabilitation for the Government, claims persistently high levels of crime and anti-social behaviour are linked to unprecedented levels of family breakdown – with children who grow up with “non-biological father-substitutes” twice as likely to become involved in crime.
In a speech organised by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), the Conservative peer, 78, will argue that parents must teach their children right from wrong rather than letting them be influenced by social media role models.
Citing CSJ research that shows 75 per cent of young offenders did not grow up with both parents, Lord Farmer will criticise politicians pledging longer and tougher prison sentences and condemn “liberal optimists” who claim that social and economic disadvantage is to blame.
Today’s intervention comes after Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, promised tougher sentences for rapists and killers in the King’s Speech – despite the record-high prison population.
“My response to the arms race which penal populism generates in necessarily vote-hungry politicians, is that, like the nuclear arms race, we simply cannot afford the price tag, either in sheer cash terms of £47,000 per prisoner per annum, or the squandering of human potential,” Lord Farmer will say.
He will call on parents to “reinforce the difference between right and wrong in their children’s lives”, pointing out that “they and not teachers are responsible for helping them self-regulate and be others-oriented instead of adopting the selfish and narcissistic approach to life of many popular role models”.
Lord Farmer will also highlight the damage done to the nation’s social fabric by high levels of family breakdown and its links to criminal behaviour.
“The fabric of our relational life is becoming increasingly threadbare,” he will say. “Almost half of all children do not grow up with both their parents, which means a high percentage grow up with enduring parental conflict and or in stepfamilies which are very hard for all parties to navigate, but particularly children.”