A blot on SA values

THE South African Institute of Race Relations report revealing that violence and HIV-Aids are attributable to a 75% increase in the number of fatherless children is a dark blot on our nascent democracy.

The report reveals that between 1996 and 2010 the number of children who lived under the same roof as their fathers have decreased by 26% from 49% to 37%.

It ascribes this situation largely to the increase of male mortality because of HIV-Aids and increasing violence among South African men.

That the SAIRR report indicates that black children are the most affected by this fatherless phenomenon and the fact that it is mostly black males who die violently speaks the dysfunction in our society.

Research has shown that the absence of father figures in young people's lives leads to the development of a dysfunctional youth that cannot cope with the challenges of a society that seeks to rid itself of its dark past.

It is an unfortunate reality that the current culture of materialism that pervades our society does not make the situation any better.

The culture of materialism leads, for example, to situations in which the unemployed men, who are supposed to be providers feel emasculated because they cannot buy their children brand-name commodities which have become the norm in our communities.

On the other hand, the culture of materialism is nurturing a breed of "sugar-daddies" who engage in dangerous transactional sexual relations with young girls - who once pregnant they dump them without any remorse.

What our society needs is a commitment by all to tackle societal issues, including drug abuse, unemployment and crime.

We need to commit ourselves to becoming responsible and active citizens who will use whatever means at our disposal to be a society that cares for its most vulnerable members.

This commitment will also create an opportunity for the affirmation of those men who are trying hard to become good fathers, but are hobbled by circumstances.

It must also be an opportunity for the perversive men to atone for their misdeeds and pledge to become better fathers.

It should also become a platform for our society to explore ways of reviving family values that will contribute towards building a more caring South African society.