J'can dads stepping up ... more fathers on birth certificates

June 13, 2017
Dr Orville Taylor

Provisional statistics from the Registrar General's Department (RGD) for live births occurring in the first quarter of 2017, show 4,270 of the 6,840 births had a father's name registered on the birth certificate.

Senior lecturer in sociology at the University of West Indies, Dr Orville Taylor, says these figures are an improvement from previous years, especially before 2006.

He argued that even when a paternal name is absent, the majority of Jamaican fathers still play a role in the life of their offsprings.

"There is no truth that at any point in our Jamaican history, the majority of our families are families that are female headed," Taylor said.

According to Taylor, Jamaican men really do want it to be known that they have children because they feel complete as men.




"The ownership of a child by a man is a big deal especially among lower class men, who have nothing else as a proof of their manhood," he added.

Meanwhile, women's rights advocate Nadeen Spence believes it takes more than just having a father on a birth certificate that will make a difference in a child's life.

"It has to be a certain kind of father. It has to be a father who is willing to give attention and direction to the child," Spence said.

Taylor believes there is still a high incident of 'jacket giving' in Jamaica.

"The fact that a man steps up and gets a jacket means that he is willing to be responsible, even if there is a doubt of him being the father," he said.

However, he cautioned women against giving jackets to irresponsible men.

President of the Jamaica Theological Seminary, Reverend Dr Garnett Roper, is encouraging persons to get married before having children as the stability of the family structure is the most vital contribution to the emotional stability and well-being of a child.

"I believe that when children are born in informal and unstable relationships that adversely impacts their development, and I believe that marriage gives us a best chance of a formal relationship and of a stable relationship," Roper said.

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