Virtual Library of Newspaper Articles

Unfair punishment for dropouts

CAROL GOAR, Aug. 23, 2006

One of the threads Liberal leadership contender Gerard Kennedy left dangling when he stepped down as Ontario education minister was a bill depriving anyone who quits school before 18 of the right to hold a driver's licence.

It would have been best to let it drop. The measure is clumsy, coercive and unduly harsh on rural teens.

But Kennedy's replacement, Sandra Pupatello, is determined to tie up loose ends. After four days' debate this spring, she whisked the bill off to a legislative committee for line-by-line scrutiny. "We are hoping to see it approved as soon as possible," said a ministerial aide. "This is a priority for this government."

The committee, chaired by government backbencher Bob Delaney of Mississauga West, isn't likely to provide much resistance. Eight of its 11 members are Liberals. Only two (both Conservatives) represent rural ridings.

There is still one chance albeit a slim one to halt this rush to punish.

The committee will hold three public hearings next week. On Tuesday (Aug. 29), it will be in Whitchurch-Stouffville. On Wednesday, it will move to Hamilton. On Thursday, it will visit Leamington.

The meetings haven't been widely publicized. The timing isn't convenient. And people can't just show up and speak. In order to comment on the legislation, an individual must notify the clerk of the committee by 4 p.m. today. (Tonia Grannum can be reached at 416-325-3519.)

Clearly, the government isn't encouraging citizens to express their views. But it is worth making the effort. Here's why:

  • This isn't what Ontarians voted for. Dalton McGuinty never told electors his government would deny driver's licences to 16- and 17-year-olds who dropped out of school. He said the Liberals would require young people to stay in school or an approved training program until 18 years of age. But there was no mention of using an enforcement technique that is totally unrelated to academic attainment.
  • Neither Kennedy nor Pupatello has produced a shred of evidence that this approach works. Nine American states have made school attendance mandatory to get a driver's licence, but none has shown that the requirement reduces truancy. Politicians think it does. Educators acknowledge that wheels give kids power and status. But no one has been able to establish a clear link.
  • The policy sends a troubling message to young people: Your government knows what's best for you. It will bully you into submitting, regardless of your needs or circumstances. It knows that you, unlike an adult, don't have the power to fight back.
  • It wasn't the kids who broke the education system. It was the government of Mike Harris. The Tories put in place a curriculum that sent failure rates soaring and provided no practical help to students who weren't bound for university or college. To McGuinty's credit, the Liberals have begun to straighten out the mess. Until they finish the job, penalizing the victims of a bad policy would be patently unfair.
  • Stripping youths who already are at high risk of unemployment of one of the few qualifications they can use to get a job is counterproductive. It will worsen their plight and increase the odds they'll end up on welfare or turn to crime.
  • The burden of this sanction will fall disproportionately on rural families. Not only will teens have to depend on their parents to get around. They won't be able to take over farm responsibilities or drive relatives to medical appointments.
  • Middle-class politicians have little understanding of the forces that drive disadvantaged kids to leave school. It could be ostracism or shame or bullying. It could be a poor grasp of English (funding for language instruction has been cut.) It could be an undiagnosed mental illness. It could be a learning disability. It could be the need to have what other kids have. It could be a hunger to succeed at something anything.

"This is mean and I don't think it's going to work," said Miriam Kaufman, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto who specializes in adolescent medicine.

Like most educators, parents and citizens, she supports the goal of keeping kids in school longer. But she finds the means crude and offensive.

One of the essentials of good discipline, Kaufman says, is a clear link between actions and consequences. If a young driver breaks the rules of the road, it would be fair to suspend his or her licence. But there is no connection between being a competent driver and attending high school.

"I was a high-school dropout and it didn't stop me from getting a licence to practise medicine," she said. "This just doesn't make sense."

If a few articulate voters better still a few hundred delivered that message to the Liberals next week, they might listen. Otherwise, they'll hear it at the ballot box.

Australian Father Wins Paternity Fraud Case

Woman failed to tell man he was not father

West Australian News

21st December 2005

A pregnant woman has a duty of care not to tell a sexual partner he is the father of her unborn child if it is possible another man is the real father a District Court judge has ruled.

And mother-of-three, Kellie Gray, of Pinjarra, was negligent in not having a paternity test done as soon as her son was born, Judge John Wisbey said in his judgement in a damages action by a father who turned out not to be the father.

Rodney Macdonald, of Kewdale, claimed damages of about $70,000AUD from Ms Gray on the grounds that he was tricked into believing he was the father of her son. He gave up a well paid mining job to move to Perth to be nearer the child.

Fathering Magazine

A Woman's Right to be Criminal

December 5, 2002

I read a USA Today article on child support by Martin Kasindorf entitled, Men wage battle on 'paternity fraud'. Paternity fraud is when a woman names the wrong man as a father for the purpose of forcing him to pay child support. The words 'paternity fraud' were in quotes as if they referred to someone's questionable characterization rather than a straightforward fact. This might have moved me to let out a long sigh except that I knew it would not have been worth the trouble. I know from experience that 'paternity fraud' would not have been in quotes unless we were being prepared for some unadulterated bullshit.

South Korean Husband Win Paternity Fraud Lawsuit - Associated Press

South Korean Husband Wins Paternity Fraud Lawsuit

Associated Press, USA
June 1, 2004

South Korean husband successfully sues wife for Paternity Fraud and gets marriage annulled.  Wins $42,380 in compensation

Paternity Fraud - Spain Supreme Court - Civil Damages

Daily Mail UK

Adulterous woman ordered to pay husband £177,000 in 'moral damages'

The Daily Mail, UK
18th February 2009

An adulterous Spanish woman who conceived three children with her lover has been ordered to pay £177,000 in 'moral damages' to her husband.

The cuckolded man had believed that the three children were his until a DNA test eventually proved they were fathered by another man.

The husband, who along with the other man cannot be named for legal reasons to protect the children's identities, suspected his second wife may have been unfaithful in 2001.

Paternity Fraud & the Criminal Code of Canada

Paternity fraud: Is it or should it be a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada?

You be the judge.

Associated Press U.S.A. - Man Jailed for not sypporting child who isn't his

Man jailed for not supporting kid who isn't his

Mistaken-identity victim forced to pay $12,000 to someone else's daughter

Associated Press, USA, December 6, 2008

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Philadelphia man was forced to pay more than $12,000 in child support for another man's daughter and spent two years in jail for falling behind on payments.

Dauphin County prosecutor Edward M. Marsico Jr. told The Patriot-News of Harrisburg that he is examining the case of Walter Andre Sharpe Jr., who has been unable to recover the money even after establishing that he isn't the girl's father.  Read More ..

Former U.S. Army Paratrooper Faces Paternity Fraud

Former Army paratrooper, Walter "Buddy" Everhart, of Powder Springs, Ga., was married for fourteen years in a union that produced five children, or so he thought. After his divorce, his world was turned upside down when he learned that three, and possibly four, of the children he thought were his biologically, are not. DNA testing has conclusively proved it, according to the National Family Justice Association.