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Study: 60 percent of Richmond families are single parent

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — As Father’s Day approaches, children are reminded to appreciate their dads and the impact on their lives.

Today dads around the city were honored a week in advance of Father’s Day. Celebrate Fatherhood 2013 was held this afternoon at the Collegiate School Aquatics Center. While these dads and their children enjoyed the moon bounce and competed in contests, an alarming amount of children in the area won’t have fathers around to celebrate the holiday.

First Things First, an organization dedicated to keeping dads involved in kids’ lives, reports that 60 percent of all families in the city of Richmond are single-parent households. Within the African-American demographic, that number spikes up to 86 percent, a number that surpasses the national average.

Sean Powell

Sean Powell, a volunteer facilitator, attended Sunday’s event  with his son.

“It’s not just Richmond and it’s not always just African-Americans,” Sean Powell, who helps run father boot camps in the community, said. “Whether they leave the house or not, it’s always important for them [fathers] to be there for that child.

“That’s basically what’s in our culture right now. You’re having baby mamas or baby daddies. So even if it is a baby mother or baby father, you treat them with respect as she is the mother of your child. And it’s the same, visa-versa, for the mother treating the father that way,” Powell said.

Experts have said that more often than not, it’s the father who leaves the family.

“We have a major father absenteeism issue in Richmond,” First Things First Executive Director Truin Huntle said. “I wish more people were discussing why this is such a major issue. We see more people beginning to give some credence to it because they are looking for the root cause of other issues like childhood poverty, poor performance in school. Father absenteeism, broken homes, broken marriages and teen pregnancy are continually being found as the root cause of those problems.”

Henrico Police Chief Doug Middleton said he has noticed a correlation to crime as well.

“I do know that a large of number of young folks we interact with do not have a father in their home and I think it’s on all of us to recognize a responsibility to help those children,” Chief Middleton said.