Thirty Kids and One Dubious Dad

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  • I feel sorry for these 30 black children.

    The unsuspecting kids I’m referring to were fathered by an idiot named Desmond Hatchett, who holds the record for having the most kids in the Knox County Juvenile Child Support Court: Thirty children by 11 different women.

    What a dubious distinction.

    “I had four kids in the same year. Twice.” Hatchett, 33, shamelessly told reporters.

    The children range in age from toddlers to 14 years old and since Hatchett only has a minimum wage job, that means some of Hatchett’s “baby mamas” receive as little as $1.49 a month.

    Hatchett, who was jailed in 2009 for not paying child support, is now pleading for help. It’s a little late in the game, but Hatchett is saying he can’t afford the $309-a-month child support payments that some of the women are owed.

    He’s more than just a knucklehead; Hatchett is a detriment to the African-American community, a reckless man with no moral compass, and the worst excuse for a father.

    Hatchett’s problems are not just financial. It’s bad enough that he can’t provide for his 30 children, but these kids desperately need a father in their lives and Hatchett can’t begin to be the caring dad these children deserve.

    It also doesn’t make sense for the court to keep locking Hatchett up because he needs to be forced to work to pay for his children. Three years ago, Hatchett brought $400 to the court to split between the 11 mothers of his kids. The money barely covered the cost for one child.

    So what becomes of these kids? The court can’t order Hatchett to stop having children. They can’t give him a check to care for his kids. And they can’t make him wear condoms.

    And what about the mothers of Hatchett’s children? Did they know each other? Surely they should shoulder some of the responsibility, too. There’s enough blame to go around – and severe consequences for their actions.

    Today, one in five U.S. kids are living in poverty, according to government studies – and for children of color, the situation is even more dire: more than one in three black kids—36 percent of black youth—live in poverty. Hatchett is senseless and selfish: he’s not giving his kids a fighting chance to be successful in a challenging and competitive world.

    More than 24 million children in America are growing up without fathers and the statistics, according to the National Fatherhood Initiative, are daunting:

    -Children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor –A child with a nonresident father is 54 percent more likely to be poorer than his or her father.
    -Children who live apart from their fathers are more likely to be diagnosed with asthma and experience an asthma-related emergency even after taking into account demographic and socioeconomic conditions.
    -Adolescents, particularly boys, in single-parent families were at higher risk of status, property and person delinquencies.

    There’s a troubling culture among young black men in America that needs to change. Several years ago, I saw a young man in D.C. proudly wearing a t-shirt that read: “The Baby Maker.”

    That’s a tragedy.

    As we approach Father’s Day next month, I’m reminded of President Barack Obama’s challenge for men – and black men in particular.

    “We need fathers to step up to realize that their job does not end at conception; that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one,” Obama said last year.

    It’s a shame that Desmond Hatchett didn’t have the good sense to embrace Obama as a role model because he’s leaving a legacy of dysfunction and putting a generation of black children in harm’s way.

    All 30 of them.

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