THE high divorce rate in this country is crippling families, and causing a societal break down fueling some of the crimes being committed.
This is according to Minister of Gender,Youth and Child Development Clifton De Coteau who launched a series of workshops in New Grant on Tuesday, labeled the Defining Masculine Training workshop.
This year is the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family and the theme is "Strengthening Our Families."
De Coteau said if more emphasis was placed on building proper family structures, there would be less crime and less problems in the country.
He said: " Let me share with you some statistics which should not only highlight my point of declining family life but should also generate some concern amongst you. The Ministry of Legal Affairs has indicated that for the period 2011 to 2013, approximately 24,000 couples applied for marriage licences. However, in the same period 7,123 couples applied for divorces."
De Coteau said: " If we factor in this relatively high rate of divorce, along with the already high number of single parent families, we begin to get a better picture of the number children growing up in single parent households. We all know how challenging parenting already is, imagine how much harder this becomes when only one person is responsible for raising a child. "
The planned workshops and vacation camps are attempts by the State to curb violence and criminal activities.
He said:" It is a general belief that fathers bring something unique to the family, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the life of the child. Consequently, when fathers are absent and children are denied the specific and unique contribution that fathers bring to the table, our child/children, particularly boys, suffer emotionally, socially, intellectually and psychologically. Sadly, in Trinidad and Tobago, girls, boys and young men and women will go to bed each night in homes where their fathers do not live. "
Making reference to a study titled "Life without Father" De Coteau said: "A father’s absence is a major force lying behind the attention grabbing issues that dominate the news, crime and delinquency, premature sexuality ,out of wedlock teen birth/teenage pregnancy, under educational achievement, depression, substance abuse, alienation among teenagers, in addition to the growing number of women in poverty."
The minister also said several key objectives of the Government included the promotion of legislative and cultural reform to ensure that men are protected from abuse as effectively as women.
He said his ministry will also be hosting vacation camps for males, ages five to 16, offering training in music, baking, etiquette/ protocol while "providing an informal setting for fun learning."