Local Judge Says Dads Must Stop Abandoning Their Kids

Posted on October 27, 2020 by Romi White

The Honorable Thomas V. Dannheisser, First Judicial Circuit Court of Florida

After presiding over thousands of court cases involving fatherless children, First Judicial Circuit Court Judge Thomas Dannheisser has become a man on a mission to create an awareness of the problems local kids face without a father in their lives.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in the U.S—one out of three—live without their biological father in the home.

“Every child, as a basic human right, should have the benefit of an intact two-parent family. Today over half of the children born in Escambia County do not have this basic human right,” stated Dannheisser in a March 4 letter to City of Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson.

According to the Florida Department of Health, in 2019 nearly one third of children in Santa Rosa County and 52.6 percent in Escambia County were born to single mothers.

Dannheisser went on to quote from former U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2008 Father’s Day speech, which revealed that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison.

“So we all know that this unrebutted statistic shows that the absence of a father results in a young man being 20 times more likely to end up in prison. This is roughly the same causative correlation of smoking tobacco to lung cancer rates,” stated Dannheisser.

Although Dannheisser believes abandonment by fathers and the subsequent risks that creates for children is a subject which needs addressing, he says is too often avoided.

“Can you image a community effort to fight lung cancer which doesn’t target or at least discuss the harm of smoking,” he said.

Until the root cause is addressed, surrogate programs exist and are in need of male volunteers.

“Most abused, abandoned and neglected children lack consistent, positive male role models in their lives – a fact of great concern to the Guardian ad Litem Program, whose volunteers act as the voices of children in dependency court,” said Margie Menzel, a spokeswoman for Guardian Ad Litem.

Additionally, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida offers seven programs to help youth.

According to Big Brthers Big Sistes of Northwest Florida’s Marketing Coordinator Bella Cost, there are currently 230 active matches with Littles who are living in a single parent home.

“We have 97 Littles on our waiting list waiting for a caring, adult mentor to step up to the plate and defend their potential,” said Costa.

For more details on volunteering with Guardian Ad Litem visit nwfgal.org or with Big Brothers Big Sisters visit bbbsnwfl.org.