Interview at Family Services

With Jack Bonina

Publication Date: 
January 23, 2007

Mr. Bonina has been a very influential, local figure in the development of human services that focus on men, especially in their roles as fathers. He began working with fathers in 1998 when he began a parenting group for fathers. In 1999, Jack called upon local family service providers to create a coalition in hopes to develop programming that would address the needs and interests of fathers. Mr. Bonina holds a Bachelors Degree in Social Work and a Masters in Social Work.

ESCS: "When you began working with men, when did you begin to see the immediate need for services for fathers?"

JB: "When men would attend this parenting group, they would come at a time of transition. They came for many reasons, but the most common reason men would give for coming was that they 'wanted to learn how to connect' with their kids. Typically, men don't discuss their emotions or feelings, but I found that if men were given the opportunity to talk about their children in a safe environment, they would express their emotions through talking about their children. I found in that original group, that the needs of these fathers extended far beyond what the group could provide."

ESCS:"Did you find that these men could obtain such services anywhere?"

JB: "No, being in the human services field, I have always seen that there is such a focus on women and motherhood, that it alienates men. It makes men feel that they have no reason to consult human services. Because of this, I decided that new programs needed to be developed that would provide services for the entire family, rather than just one or two members."

ESCS:"With this initiative what message are you trying to send to the community?"

JB: "We want dads to be involved with their children and know why it is so important. All you need to do I look at recent research and you will find the importance of fathers in their child's development. Kids need the structure, gender roles, and societal roles provided by both parents and especially fathers. This idea of statistics proving the need for fathers has sparked a national initiative."

ESCS:"Could you give us a few of these statistics?"

JB: "Sons who have uninvolved fathers are 300 % more likely to be incarcerated in state juvenile institutions. Daughters with uninvolved fathers are 111% more likely to be teen parents. Women with uninvolved fathers are 92% more likely to fail in their marriages, and men with uninvolved fathers are 63% more likely to fail in their marriages. Children from father-absent homes make up 63% of all youth suicides. Children who live without their fathers are 2-3 times more likely to be poor, become a drug user, experience health, educational, emotional and/or behavioral problems, to be victims of child abuse or to engage in criminal behavior, than those children who live with involved fathers."

If you wish to become involved in the Fathers and Family Network, please contact Jack Bonina at or (508) 756-4646

For more on fatherhood and its importance: