Fatherless Children

Some of the data around the impact of children growing up without a father –

90% of homeless men come from fatherless homes, 63% of youth suicides come from fatherless homes, 75% of substance abusers come from fatherless homes, 85% of children who show behavioural issues come from fatherless homes and our girls are 7x more likely to become teenage mums from fatherless homes.

The data above is something I’ve seen first-hand through my work in shelters, youth hostels, prison and around drug recovery. Children may seem resilient after the separation but around ages 10-14 the cracks begin to appear.

I spoke with a man recently around the impact of his father walking out of his life at 9 years old, he told me this isn’t something he has recovered from. He went on to become addicted to drugs, became homeless and has been in and out of prison. This fits the data I have researched, and there are many like him.

How can we stop fatherless homes and support our children suffering from fatherless syndrome?

As a charity we have a 5-year business plan which will look to support both parents after separation and encourage both parents to play an active role in their children’s lives.

If we want fathers to play an active role in their children’s lives, we need to start by valuing fathers and showing them how important they are to their children’s future.

Why does James’ Ark focus on fathers’ involvement?

The crisis is fatherless homes. Children are being brought up in single parent households, without fathers and this is having a significant impact on children and the community as a whole.

There are so many fantastic mothers out there who struggle daily bringing up children alone and do not get the emotional support, financial support or the praise for doing this. We want to avoid the stress in single parent households and encourage fathers to step up. We also want to avoid mothers who are withholding children from a loving parent, this has irreparable damage. It is often that the children will grow up, look for their birth father and realise that their relationship with a loving father was sabotaged, only to project this anger onto their mother. No child should be taught to hate, they should be taught to love and to forgive.

Videos Fatherless & Broken, Children Need Their Fathers


I recommend these video to anyone affected by family separation, not just dads. 

Jordan Peterson: Fatherless & Broken, Children Need Their Fathers (8 mins)

Bob Geldof on Fathers (49 mins)

Both fathers and mothers play an important role in a child’s development.  No one parent is more important than the other – in this video Jordan goes in depth talking about the importance of fathers.

If you are impacted by these issues maybe contact James Ark, a charity breaking the cycle of fatherless homes by supporting fathers and their families suffering from long-term separation to find effective ways to reconnect with their children.

James Ark Jersey, Breaking The Cycle Of Fatherless Homes


Research suggests that family separation has immediate and long-term negative impacts on children’s health. There are a few rare instances when family separation is beneficial to the child, such as cases of extreme abuse in which it would be physically unsafe for the child to remain in the household with their parent. There are other instances when family separation is unavoidable, such as during a natural disaster, as we see with tsunamis, earthquakes, or large fires. Barring such crises, it is paramount to avoid family separation whenever possible.

How does family separation impact children’s health?

In some regards, the impact of family separation depends on the circumstances and mechanism of the separation. However, there also seems to be underlying aspects of family separation that are universal. These aspects span circumstance, culture, geography, and even children’s age.

When children become separated from their families, the parent-child bond is disrupted. The disruption in the parent-child bond, as understood through Bowlby and Ainsworth’s attachment theory, can harm children’s psychological health. Children can become less flexible, open, and adaptable to the world around them.

In physiologic terms, the impact of family separation can be understood as creating a toxic stress. We all face challenges in our day-to-day lives. For some individuals, adversity is extreme and repeated. For children facing situations that create repeated adversity in childhood, we call these factors adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Family separation due to ACEs (for example parental incarceration, parent divorce, or parent death) are strong ACEs that create a toxic stress response in a child’s body. Without loving, trusted caregivers, the toxic stress intensifies, leaving a child’s body in a continual state of “fight or flight” stress response. The impact is upregulation of stress hormones, which worsens emotional health and can increase risk of physical illness, such as autoimmune disease or even heart attack later in life.

In terms of diagnoses, family separation creates a profound trauma on children’s lives. Many children develop depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Given the mechanism of toxic stress described above, family separation may impact children’s risk of medical conditions into adulthood as well, such as by increasing the risk of stress-related illnesses including heart disease or heart attacks.

The best way to mitigate the impacts of family separation is to avoid family separation whenever possible. When family separation does occur, children should be reunited with their families as quickly as possible (when safe to do so). When reunion does occur, the reunion and long-term reunification process needs to be supported. Also, during separation, when children are suffering the stress of the separation, the setting the child is in should be developmentally appropriate. Children should be allowed to communicate with their parents and receive frequent updates and clear expectations regarding reunion. That is because UNCERTAINTY around reunion—children wondering if, when, or ever they will reunite with their parents—can be gruelling. The ambiguity of children not knowing whether or when they will reunite with their families intensifies the separation. The impact of the separation is worse when children have less understanding or control over what is happening.

Data suggests that the impacts of family separation on children’s health have universal features, are intense, and are likely life-long. To promote a healthy society and healthy children (and future adults), family separation should be prevented when possible. Children’s health and well-being are at stake.

Liz Barnert, MD, MPH, and MS; Pediatrician & Assistant Professor at UCLA

10 Consequences of Fatherless homes – The impact on children

76% of young men in prison in England and Wales had absent fathers (Prison reform trust 2013) and absent fathers affect girls and young women as well. 

Here are some of the ways father deficit affects girls & young women:

  1. Fatherless daughters can have self-esteem issues 
  2. More likely to have eating disorders 
  3. More prone to depression 
  4. Struggled to build and maintain relationships 
  5. More likely to become sexually active earlier 
  6. Can develop an addiction 

2.9 million children live in a lone parent household in the UK (National Statistics 2019)

1.1 million children in the UK are growing up with a father in their lives. (Centre for social justice 2017)

51 billion the economic cost of family breakdown in 2018 (relationship foundation 2018) 

It is so important that our young people have an active father in their lives, to help encourage and support them during what is arguably, the most important time of their lives. Until our young people become responsible adults above the age of 21 years old, they are extremely vulnerable.

They are exposed to all sorts of criminal activity through the likes of the media, such as films, television, social media. They are also exposed to criminal activity through video games and music. Young people are also exposed to criminal activity by other young people at school or in their community, who also most likely suffer from a father deficit.

Potential consequences of father deficit include;

  1. Behavioural problems. Children are more likely to struggle in social settings, building relationships and making friends. Many may attempt to try and come across scary and aggressive to hide that, below the surface, they are scared, unhappy and have anxieties. 
  2. Relationships. It may be harder for young people with absent fathers to trust, build and maintain relationships in the future. 
  3. Poor academic performance. Most children from fatherless homes are more likely to be excluded from school, less likely to attain higher educational qualifications in adulthood and have less motivation to learn and take school seriously. One of the ways the ACT can assist schools is through our behaviour and early intervention services designed to support the social and emotional development of young people, who may be struggling to manage their own behaviour as a result of underlying issues. Visit http://www.actcic.org.uk/schools/ for more information on how we support schools. 
  4. Exploitation and abuse. Young people are at a higher risk of experiencing and suffering from abuse, (sexual, physical and emotional). The boys may grow up and be abusive towards their future girlfriends or wives.

  5. Self-esteem. Young people’s self-worth may be quite low with an absent father leading them to be mistreated in adulthood and unable to stand up for themselves if they do not develop their self-esteem in their young years. 
  6. Youth Crime & Gang Violence. Young people are more likely to become involved in crime, become criminally or sexually exploited, carry weapons, violence and associate with gangs or other criminal groups.  We also offer services for young people who have been affected by child criminal exploitation, youth violence and gangs visit our website for more information about our critical intervention services.     
  7. Young Pregnancy and promiscuity. Young people from fatherless homes are more likely to be sexually active from a young age, may have sexual health issues, become young parents, and girls may be exploited by adult men as a result of their emotional loss of their father.  
  8. Drug and Alcohol abuse. Young people may experience and be exposed to drugs and alcohol from a young age and can become addicted to substances. 
  9. Mental health. Common mental health problems young people with absent fathers have are anxiety and/ or depression.

  10. Life Opportunities. Money may be tight in fatherless households, so young people may not get to do extra activities, join clubs that cost money ie; football, karate, music clubs etc, and may have to rely on the system to help them out in their adult lives.

So, what can we do to help support young people who come from fatherless homes but have taken the wrong turn?

As organisations, schools, community officers, social workers, partners, teachers and community members, we can support young people from fatherless homes by;

  1. Being educated on the issue, the impact and the ‘cry for help’ signs in our young people. 
  2. Being open-minded and understanding of our young people’s situation to encourage them to open up and begin their transformation. 
  3. Get them involved in activities and local organisations (like us) that regularly deliver programmes and events to support young people, helping them to stay active, happy and out of trouble You may want to check out our previous blog, which discusses the https://youthmap.uk/ a resource designed to help schools, organisations, and communities identify local services and positive activities that support young people within the West Midlands. 
  4. Representation matters so having male teachers in schools and more male mentors to help give the children a positive role model, especially those who can reflect their personal and cultural experiences are essential to helping young people identify with adults that understand them and their experiences. If the school you are in doesn’t have many people that reflect the cultural experiences of the young people that attend your school, then mentoring can be a great way of supporting young people.  Get in contact with us today, if you would like to know how we can support you with mentors, PSHE workshops and programmes in your school.  
  5. Mothers can encourage their children to get involved in organisations that provide support for children that don’t have a male role model in their life. (eg; lads needs dads, 100 black men) We also offer a free mentoring programme that parents can tap into to get support through our Youth Inclusions Support Programme visit www.actcic.org.uk/yisp for more information.

Together as a community, we can help tackle child criminal exploitation, gangs and youth violence. If you are interested in understanding more about how to support young people impacted by these issues, then our Working with Gangs and Youth Violence course, the only accredited course in the UK for both professionals and community members to learn how to support our young people who have been impacted by gangs and youth violence.  www.actcic.org.uk/gangscourse 

ACT CIC provides a number of supporting services for schools, organisations, agencies and the wider communities including families to help prevent and intervene on the issues of exploitation, gangs and youth violence.  


Youth map blog:  http://www.actcic.org.uk/the-youth-map-launch/ 

Lads need dads. Website: https://ladsneeddads.org/ 

Office for national statistic

Children’s bureau. Website: www.all4kids.org

ACT CIC: www.actcic.org.uk


Our mission is to encourage father involvement by early intervention after family separation.

We aim to lower conflict and offer emotional support through the separation process.

We support fathers and their families suffering from long-term separation to find effective ways to reconnect with their children.

James’ Ark does not discriminate. We extend our support to anyone affected by this.


  • To promote equality for both parents regardless of gender.
  • To raise awareness of the effects of family separation.
  • To lower the conflict between parents after separation by early intervention.
  • To support families to avoid children being separated from their parents for prolonged periods.
  • To encourage father involvement by supporting fathers to reconnect with their children.
  • To support families affected by fatherlessness.
  • To raise awareness of the need for children to have a loving relationship with both parents.