These figures, out today, are on the face of it rather worrying. The number of
children born outside marriage has gone up from 10% to 42% in 25 years. BBC
The proportion of children born outside marriage in the UK has leapt from 12% in 1980 to 42% in 2004, according to the Office for National Statistics. In contrast, 15 other EU countries had an estimated average of 33%, the annual ONS' Social Trends report said. The average UK household size fell from 2.9 to 2.4 people from 1971 to 2005. This was due to more single-parent families, smaller families and an increase in households of just one person, the ONS said. From 1986 to 2004, the percentage of non-married people under 60 who cohabited rose from 11% to 24% among men, and from 13% to 25% for women.
I am not qualified to comment on this in detail but it seems to me that the increasing crime rates among the country's youth cannot be totally divorced from this. I think something like 80% of some kinds of crime are down to youth offenders. In some parts of Britain children are growing up with no male influence in their lives at all. I remember a primary supply teacher telling me how he was often mobbed by children in the playground. They would hold on to his legs as to them, being male in a position of authority, he was an oddity - almost a celebrity. Single mothers have one of the toughest tasks life can throw at them but it's often just as hard for the fathers too. I don't pretend to have an answer. It's no good indulging ourselves in moralising lectures yet at the same time we cannot just stand by as if it doesn't matter. The figure on the graph which interests me is Germany. Perhaps we should be looking to them for advice. Ideas on a postcard please...