By Ivan Kipp

During the Youth and Government State Conference in Austin, Texas, a bill was proposed in the first legislative hearing committee to provide a program at public schools that will give kids a male representative in place of a possibly missing father figure. Delegate Bechler from Sachse wrote and presented this bill.

Delegate Bechler presents a great concern for the rate of fathers who are absent from their families, or who have chosen to leave their children and partners. Bechler stated that “1 in 28 kids are without a father” in America, and has concluded that this absence is capable of being very detrimental to the development of our American youth, and that it has been damaging to kids in the past.

Bechler said that “boys who don’t [have a strong male role model or father] are more likely to be incriminated because they don’t have that strong male role model”. The author further stated that statistics have shown an increased suicide rate in fatherless children.

This program, called Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students), seeks to provide these kids with a strong role model and to “help these students grow as a person,” said a fellow delegate in the same committee.

This bill seeks to provide for kids up until the 12th grade, so public schools will see the implementation of this program. Private schools are exempt from this legislation. As written in the bill, the school is responsible for funding the establishment of Watch D.O.G.S. at their school. However, if the school is unable to provide for this program, the state will allocate the needed amount to the school/district.

As for those who are becoming these role models for the kids in public schools around the state, there is a specific set of guidelines in place to ensure that they are fit for the position. Section II of the bill includes that the adult participants “must go through the normal initiation process as well as have a background check to ensure there is no major criminal background,” which was defined as “three or more misdemeanors, one or more felonies excluding traffic violations” in Section I.

The majority of the hearing committee was in favor of the bill. A fellow delegate stated concern for the schools if the funds would be too cumbersome for the schools with tight budgets. Some minor amendments were attached that reduced the amount of funds the school is required to supply to help the schools out if they were struggling.

Besides concerns with budgets and finances, the program can “really help kids in public schools who don’t have these figures,” says another delegate. It is with hope that this will “curb violence and give kids a better future,” adds Delegate Bechler.