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CELINA — Over the past approximately 60 years, the absent father rate has jumped from 7 percent to 33 percent, according to Mercer Dads Director Ted Goodwin.
“As the absent father rate has climbed, what has happened in our society?” Goodwin said. “Things have gotten worse progressively in society. Dad has that much of an impact.”
Goodwin said the statistics about children with an absent father are shocking.
“When dads aren’t home, the chances of negative things that can happen to our kids goes up two to three times minimum,” he said. “They’re more likely to have behavioral problems, health issues, mental problems and educational problems. They’re more likely to be involved in criminal activity, drugs and alcohol. Seventy-one percent of all teen pregnancies don’t have a dad at home. Ninety percent of all homeless people did not have a good relationship with their father.”
In an ongoing effort by Mercer Dads to combat absent fathers, the film “Absent” will be shown at 7 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Celina Fieldhouse, located at 585 E. Livingston St., Celina. The film is directed by Justin Hunt, the award-winning director of “American Meth,” who will also be present at the screening to discuss the fatherhood issue.
In the film, Hunt explores the effects an absent father has on people through a series of interviews of people across the country, including James Hetfield of Metallica, World Champion Boxer Johnny Tapia and Author John Eldredge among others.
“He talks to hookers on the streets, he talks to kids in Miami public schools, there’s a fitness model in there — just people from all walks of life,” Goodwin said. “You can really see the impact of how devastating this is.”
Goodwin said Mercer Dads is bringing the film to Celina to continue to spread awareness to the issue.
“The purpose of bringing ‘Absent’ is just to bring awareness to the community that this is an issue,” he said.
“We’re hoping that individuals, organizations, churches and businesses will step up and come alongside our kids that don’t have dads at home. We hope that these absent dads realize that, ‘You know what, I need to be around my kids.’ We’re promoting involved, responsible fatherhood.”
Mercer Dads formed last year after Mercer County was one of 12 counties chosen to participate in the Community Mobilization Initiative to promote responsible fatherhood, a joint initiative between the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood and the National Fatherhood Initiative.
“They had been in inner cities and didn’t know if this was an issue in a rural area as much as it is in the inner cities,” Goodwin said of why Mercer County was chosen. “We’re finding out that it is.”
A fatherhood summit was held in May to begin spreading awareness of the issue in the community. Goodwin said the Mercer Dads formed after the summit, when interest from the community sparked. Since its inception, Mercer Dads has set up programming in the community to promote responsible parenthood and recently partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Mercer Dads, Goodwin noted, serves residents of both Auglaize and Mercer counties.
Goodwin said he hopes the screening of “Absent” will continue to bring awareness to the community.
“We’ve gone to several area churches and they have expressed a great interest in coming,” he said. “We’re hoping that there will be some churches that start some men’s groups after this and some mentoring groups for our kids. That’s what we need to do as a community. This needs to be a community effort. It just can’t be Mercer Dads.”
Tickets for the screening are $10 and can be purchased at Kozy Marina, at the Celina Area Chamber of Commerce and at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Celina.
Goodwin said he expects the show to sell out, as it has in each venue it has been shown in across the country, and he urged residents to get their tickets ahead of time.
For more information or to view a trailer of “Absent,” visit MercerDads.org. More information about “Absent” can also be found at AbsentMovie.com.