Did four in ten dads not see their children this Father’s Day?

Published: 20th Jun 2019

In brief

Claim

Four in ten fathers will not see their children this Father’s Day.

Conclusion

Incorrect. 37% of fathers who responded to a recent survey said that either they, or someone they knew, had ever experienced not seeing their children on Father's Day.

 

Four in ten fathers will not see their children this Father’s Day due to separation and family breakdown.

 

Incorrect. Respondents were not asked why they or someone they knew did not see their children on Father’s Day. So it’s incorrect to assume all of these cases are due to separation and family breakdown.

Claim 1 of 2

“Heartbreaking reality of Father's Day - with four in 10 dads spending day alone,” Daily Mirror, 17 June 2019.

"Four in ten fathers will not see their precious youngsters today due to separation and family breakdown,” Sunday Express, 16 June 2019.

Over the weekend, several newspapers reported the results of a ComRes/Fathers4Justice survey on fatherhood in the UK.

The Sunday Telegraph said four in ten dads had not seen their children on Father’s Day, while the Mirror, Sunday Express and Mail on Sunday went further, claiming that almost four in ten fathers would not see their children this Father’s Day.

This is wrong. The survey did not ask respondents whether or not they would be seeing their children on Father's Day in 2019.

In fact, the survey found that 37% of fathers with children under 18 have not seen their children on at least one Father’s Day or know a parent who has experienced the same.

A total of 21% of those surveyed had experienced it at least once themselves, but this still does not imply 21% of fathers would have been apart from their children this year.

The Telegraph subsequently corrected their online story—it now says one in five fathers, rather than four in ten.

The question was asked of a sample of just over 1,000 fathers with children under 18 and weighted so the respondents were demographically representative of fathers in Great Britain.

It seems the source of the error is the press release put out by the campaign group who commissioned the survey, Fathers4Justice.

The release goes on to accurately report the survey results, but its headline and first line wrongly claim that "a third of dads (37 per cent) will not see their children on Father's Day" –  the claim that several newspapers then repeated in their coverage.

We don't know why some dads didn't see their children on Father's Day

An editorial in the Sunday Express claimed: "Four in ten fathers will not see their precious youngsters today due to separation and family breakdown."

Aside from the problems mentioned with this “four in ten” figure, nobody knows if these fathers/parents are not seeing their children because of separation and family breakdown.

Respondents were not asked the reason they or someone they knew failed to see their children on the Father's Day(s) they missed.

They could, for example, have been unable to be with them on the day because of travel difficulties, a work commitment or for any other reason unrelated to family breakdown.


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