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Education Reporter

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Father and Child Reunion, Warren Farrell, Ph.D., Penguin/Putnam, 2001, 247 pps. $24.95

Every once in a while, a truly explosive book comes along, and Dr. Farrell's book fills the bill. We always knew fathers were of paramount importance in their children's lives, we just didn't realize how important.

Farrell shatters our common assumptions about fatherhood. He cites studies that show, for example, that children who grow up with single fathers do better psychologically, socially, and academically than those who grow up with single mothers. He demonstrates how the courts, the media, and government often make an enemy of fathers and separate them from their children.

Farrell describes the myriad ways divorced women keep their ex-husbands from their children, usually to the great detriment of all. "Practically speaking," he writes, "a woman who wants to keep a dad from a child is currently a power with no checks or balances."

While men must support their children financially, women are under no similar obligation to "reimburse" a man for the loss of his children. Farrell suggests that an "Equal Family Opportunity Commission" be established to promote "balanced parenting," much like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission promotes balanced employment. "It is unconstitutional to deprive either parent of his or her child," he writes, but it is immoral to deprive a child of either parent."

In chapter 10, titled "Playing the 'Abuse Card,' " Farrell relates true and tragic stories of how children and families suffer when authorities remove children from their homes on the mere suspicion of abuse, or because an estranged spouse makes unsubstantiated claims. "When assumptions of guilt precede assumptions of innocence," he writes, and thus action precedes due process, the children are not put at risk, they are guaranteed to be damaged."

Despite the aura of suspicion cast by feminists on virtually all men, Farrell reports that only 1.5 out of 1,000 child-abuse investigations conducted in the United States end up as substantiated cases of sexual abuse by the natural father. His research also shows that of one million investigations of possible child abuse each year by child-protection agencies, only 150,000 are substantiated enough to get to court.

Father and Child Reunion calls for a rejoining of families, and of children rejoining parents who love them.

Contact Penguin/Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014, www.penguinputnam.com

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