Absentee fathers are driving high levels of addition, anti-social behaviour and crime, a new report has revealed.
Children growing up in fatherless families are turning to self-harm as well as criminal activity, fueled by their sense of abandonment and lack of self-esteem.
Many of the youngsters interviewed for the Dad and Me report, which was commissioned by charity Addaction, said they had sought affirmation and affection from gang membership and turned to drugs to numb the pain.
The fatherless young people were found to be almost 70 per cent more likely to take drugs and 76 per cent more likely to turn to crime.
The report says: " Young people are struggling to find a sense of purpose within their families, schools, and community , and believe that peers provide them with what they need.
"The continuing desire to join a gang, engage in antisocial behaviour and risky lifestyles combined with the need to carry a weapon as a form of protection has become the norm for many.'
Martin Glynn, the report's author, interviewed 90 young people aged between 16 and 15 at Addaction's centres in Liverpool, London and Derby.
The fatherless children's feelings of having a void in their lives, was found to make them more likely to aspire be better parents themselves.
But their aspirations might not come true, as they often lacked the essential parenting skills needed.
Those who were young fathers and from fatherless backgrounds told the report that they found it difficult coping and their struggles were "often rooted in not having their own father's support in the process.'
Fatherless children are more likely to be involved in anti-social behaviour
Children living in single-parent families has risen from 2.9 million to 3.1 million in the last ten years, but this Office for National Statistics has not specified the sex of the caring parents.
Although the youngsters were able to answer the reports questions to their best knowledge, a lot of the impact is said to be sub-conscious.
Addaction warned that those who haven't known their father can suffer from dangerous sub-conscious anger.
'This type of anger goes unnoticed, unchecked and is not detectable. It triggered or released the outcome is detrimental to friends and family who have to pick up the pieces after the bomb has exploded', the report says.
Addaction revealed that around half of the young people it works with are from fatherless backgrounds.
The charity's chief executive, Simon Antrobus, said: "There are a whole range of factors that affect young people's alcohol misuse but one of the key factors is that they have absent fathers and they are telling us that is a factor.'
One young man talked about the separation from his own child and how inadequate he felt not being able to parent adequately.
The report said: "A significant amount of his anguish was in seeing the same cycle that had affected him, now affecting his own child. The desire to break the cycle was strong, but the lack of available means to do so was the most depressing factor."
Simon Antrobus added: "What the report says is that fathers matter to children and the Government must do more to design its policies to support young dads, especially when they have no positive role models of their own.
"If they do this then we have a greater chance of preventing young people developing problems with alcohol, or of getting involved with drugs and crime."
From The Daily Mail