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News

Thousands protest Lifetime TV

 

Los Angeles, CA, April 27, in the year of our Lord 2009…Thousands of protesters have called, faxed and emailed Lifetime Television executives today to protest its launch of a new reality show called Deadbeat Dads. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Deadbeat Dads, originally developed at Fox, follows National Child Support founder Jim Durham as he tracks down and confronts dads who don't pay child support.” According to Reuters, Durham "functions as a sort of 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' for tracking deadbeats…It's ambush reality TV."  Reuters also reports, “Durham will target fathers who are behind on their child support by making their lives miserable -- foreclosing on their house, repossessing their car. He will squeeze them."

Last April, the non-profit organization Fathers & Families led a highly-publicized campaign against the show (originally called “Bad Dads”) resulting in Fox dropping the program from its roster entirely. Now, Lifetime has picked up Deadbeat Dads, which unfairly depicts divorced fathers as uncaring and selfish. Research clearly shows that most divorced dads pay their child support and remain a part of their children's lives, often under difficult circumstances. In fact, federal government data shows that two-thirds of "deadbeat dads" earn poverty level wages - only 4% earn even $40,000 a year.

Fathers & Families is surprised at Lifetime Television’s choice in this program.  Lifetime describes its network’s mission to be “a diverse, multi-media company committed to offering the highest quality entertainment and information programming and advocating a wide range of issues affecting women and their families.” 

Visit the Fathers & Families website to see the campaign page: http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/?page_id=2706

 “Divorce and the often tenuous bonds between children and divorced fathers are a serious issue. Where a healthy discussion is needed, Deadbeat Dads is instead a heavy-handed, biased, and hurtful intrusion into the most painful part of our children’s lives,” said Fathers & Families Executive Director Glenn Sacks.

Deadbeat Dads kicks fathers while they are down.

Media reports show the majority of those losing their jobs in this recession are men, and child support orders are notoriously difficult to modify downward. As the New York Times, the Boston Globe and other papers have documented, these hard luck dads sometimes end up in jail.

Mr. Sacks explains, “The worst part about Deadbeat Dads is the way it publicly humiliates children of divorce by depicting their fathers as not loving or caring for them. These children did not volunteer to be humiliated on national television.

“According to US Census data, non-custodial mothers are 20% more likely to default on their child support obligations than non-custodial fathers. Why name the show ‘Deadbeat Dads’ when the average non-custodial father is more likely to pay his child support than the average non-custodial mother?”

Another problem with Deadbeat Dads is that studies reflect that the arrearages for which "deadbeat dads" are pursued are often erroneous. For example, a recent Massachusetts audit found that the arrearages were incorrect in 92% of that state's cases.

The California Department of Child Support Services itself admitted last year that the overwhelming majority of "deadbeat dads" are the product of problems and abuses within the child support system. Missouri Child Support Auditor Susan Montee recently called the way Missouri calculates child support arrearages “extremely sloppy…a total inattention to making sure these numbers are right."

Moreover, Deadbeat Dads glorifies the role of private child support collection agencies, even though these agencies often exploit and deceive custodial mothers. In fact, women's advocates, including the National Organization for Women, have repeatedly condemned these agencies for mistreating women. Durham, the central figure in Deadbeat Dads, has often been singled out by women's groups as a perpetrator of these abusive tactics.

 

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