For Immediate Release

Fourth Annual Candlelight Vigil for Fatherless Children to be Held in Boston

Message from imprisoned Coalition member Harry Stewart to be read

BOSTON, December 17, 1999—The Fatherhood Coalition will hold it's fourth annual candlelight vigil for children separated from their fathers this Saturday, December 18 commencing at 5 p.m. by the State House and ending at the Park St. T station.

Previously, the event was held in Quincy at the Church of the Presidents. This year it is moved to Boston because of the Coalition's high profile FREE HARRY! campaign. Richard Hilly, this year's vigil coordinator, will read a special message from Stewart, coordinator of prior year's vigils. Stewart is presently incarcerated for violating a 209A abuse prevention ("restraining") order by getting out of his car to help his son return to his mother following a visitation exchange.


Recently, Stewart's plea for release pending appeal has been denied on the grounds that he refused to enter a so-called "batterer's intervention" program. This, however, is the very same action that led to his incarceration.

Stewart was in Quincy Probate and Family Court in November on three matters: the extension of the abuse protection order he holds against his ex-wife, and two other motions addressing visitation issues regarding his children.

Stewart's ex-wife didn't appear, yet the district attorney spoke on her behalf. Is it the policy of the Quincy District Court to give female defendants the option of representation by the district attorney's office?

According to Fatherhood Coalition Co-Chairman John Flaherty, "This is this just one more example of the blatant double standards employed by the courts that ensure women receive favorable treatment."

The vigil seeks to draw attention to the many thousands of children who are forcibly separated from their non-custodial parents due to hostile actions of courts and custodial parents. This year, Harry Stewart's children are among them, as his efforts to contact them from jail have been frustrated by his ex-wife and the Quincy Court.

The participants will assemble at the State House at 5 p.m., from where they will march in candlelight procession through the Boston Commons, ending up outside the Park Street T station at the intersection of Park and Tremont Streets.

Fatherhood Coalition speakers and others from the father's rights movement in the state will be on hand to discuss the Stewart case and the plight of non-custodial fathers and their children. A large turnout is expected for the event, which has been well attended in the past.

Growing awareness of the importance of fatherhood

According to a 1997 report from the Census Bureau, Children with single parents - how they fare, in 1995, 48.3 million of the 70.3 million children under 18 lived with two parents (69 percent); 18.9 million lived with only one parent (27 percent); and 3.0 million lived with neither parent (4 percent). The report states "Children living with a divorced parent typically have a big edge over those living with a parent who has never married—an even bigger edge if that parent is the father."

A 1998 study examined the relation between family structure and serious crime using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth as a database. Cynthia Harper from UC San Francisco and Princeton's Sara McLanahann, one of the nation's top family scholars, studied records of 6,403 boys who were between 14 and 22 in 1979. Controlling for variables such as mother's education, race, family income and number of siblings, and unemployment rates and income in the communities, the researches found:

According to David Blankenhorn, author of Fatherless America, never in history have so many men lived apart from their children, and what is at stake is nothing less than the survival of a "free and ordered society." Speaking in a High School auditorium in Kansas City in 1998,

Blankenhorn said that about 40 percent of American children will live apart from their fathers at some time before they are 18. Even more distressing, Blankenhorn said, is that "as a society, we are losing belief in the necessity of fathers."


For further information, contact:

Mark Charalambous
CPF Spokesman

Richard Hilly
Event coordinator

John Flaherty
CPF Co-Chairman




CPF - The Fatherhood Coalition

A non-profit, all volunteer organization of men and women advocating for fatherhood since 1994

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