Royal Gazette

Article published Nov 5, 2002

Parenting the focus of upcoming forum

Royal Gazette (Bermuda)

The issue of good parenting is to be discussed next week at a public forum on the importance of family life in Bermuda.

Members of the community are being encouraged to turn out to the forum to debate the topic, which has been organised as part of a conference entitled Fathers for Families.

A panel of guests, including family experts from overseas, MPs, stakeholders, charities and the Police Service, are expected to speak at the forum, as well as answer questions from the audience.

The conference has been organised with the assistance of family group Child Watch, and president Eddie Fisher said both men and women should attend.

He said: “The forum will be one of the many functions held during the Fathers for Families conference, which starts on November 13 and will conclude on November 17.

“This community event is not only topical, but it will have a positive effect on what we perceive to be family problems and social ills, revolving around the care, raising of our children and parenting issues.

“But let me make this clear, the public forum is not about pointing fingers. It is solely about solutions. We want as many people to attend as possible, but we do not want people coming simply to lay blame. We are asking that people come along with good ideas and input. Bermuda needs solutions, not blame.”

The conference has been put together by Child Watch and the Fathers’ Resource Centre.

Both groups have long complained that fathers on the Island are given a raw deal by the courts when it comes to child custody matters.

Child Watch has lobbied for shared parenting to be the norm when couples split up. The group believes that no father should only get to see his child every two weeks, and said it believed many of the Island’s woes with children were down to a lack of male role models and stressed single mothers.

The forum will be held at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel from 7 p.m. on November 13.

Two renowned overseas family experts, who will be on the Island for the conference, will speak at the forum, and take questions.

Senator Anne Cools, from Canada, and Erin Pizzey, from the UK, have spoken widely in a number of countries on families and parenting issues.

Sen. Cools has a long career in social services in the field of family violence and family conflict, and opened one of Canada’s first battered women’s shelters in 1974.

She was also named Real Women of Canada’s 1999 Person of the Year in recognition of her outstanding contributions to promote and preserve family values.

And author and poet Erin Pizzey, who is also an international founder of refuges for battered women and children, also has a long career working in the area of domestic violence.

She has also won a number of awards, including the International Order of Volunteers for Peace diploma of honour, and the World Congress of Victimology.

Mr. Fisher said the whole conference would shed much needed light on the issue of parenting and fatherhood in Bermuda, and would hopefully lead to steps being taken in the right direction.

“This event will no doubt have far reaching implications for Bermuda, in light of the proposed law reform, which has been tabled (in the House) and is to be debated in the near future,” said Mr. Fisher.

“Everyone has a role to play in this, so we would urge people to come out and help improve Bermuda’s understanding of good parenting.”

Admission to the forum is free.

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