Page last updated at 00:00 GMT, Sunday, 14 March 2010

Black fathers urged to be more involved with children

David Lammy MP
David Lammy will call for fathers to remain in touch with their children

Black fathers need to become more involved with their children to help tackle social problems among young people, a government minister will say.

Prominent black MP David Lammy will tell the Runnymede race think tank that fathers must take more responsibility.

In a speech on Monday, he will say this would address issues such as education underachievement and high crime rates.

The higher education minister will also praise women in families where fathers are either absent or uninvolved.

In the event to link in with Mothering Sunday, he will say: "What many women want for Mothers' Day can't be given by their children - it is more engaged fathers."

'Emotional bond'

Mr Lammy will touch on figures that suggest 59% of black Caribbean and 44% of black African children grow up in single-parent families.

"The mark of a man is not how many children he spawns but how he matches up as a father," he will say.

Mr Lammy will also call for fathers from all backgrounds to remain in touch with their children whatever the relationship with their mothers.

He will say: "Between a quarter and a third of children with separated parents have little or no contact with their fathers.

"It is not just the structure of families that matters. It is whether fathers continue to contribute to their children's lives."

He will argue that "modern fatherhood needs updating from the traditional model", saying that young people need "an emotional bond with their father".

The speech at the House of Commons will be accompanied by recorded video interviews with leading black figures such as broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald and chart-topping rapper Tinie Tempah.

Sir Trevor said his father had a major influence on his life.

He told Mr Lammy: "My father always said 'Reach for the stars and you may get to the top of the trees, but you have to aim high'."

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