File Photo: Thakur warned that providing a forum for people to post issues without fact-checking could be crossing an ethical line. Picture: Clyde Robinson

Pretoria - “Deadbeat dads” are being outed on social media as pages dedicated to naming and shaming men who allegedly do not pay maintenance for their children mushroom in different parts of the country.

The original Facebook page, apparently started in the Eastern Cape, already has almost 160 000 fans with as many likes.

According to the page information, it “seeks to expose all the fathers who have failed to do the most basic thing - taking care of their offspring.”

Women are encouraged to send their story with photographs of the dad to the page’s inbox for the administrator to post it on the page.

The page warns that the administrators do not encourage personal agendas that have nothing to do with the child, and that information must be true otherwise there could be a charge of defamation.

In response to the Facebook pages, another was created allowing men to give reasons they don’t pay maintenance.

Some posters stated they did not pay because women refused to take DNA tests.

Colin Thakur, the social media director of the Durban University of Technology’s e-Skills CoLab, said this was an indication that gone were the days when social media was just for socialising.

“People are taking to social media for all sorts of things. They may get empathy and sympathy, but what does that accomplish?”

While the administrators absolve themselves of liability, Thakur warned that providing a forum for people to post issues without fact-checking could be crossing an ethical line.

However, Andre Lewkas, the manager of the MenCare initiative in South Africa, said men needed to show up and take more responsibility.

MenCare is a global fatherhood campaign aimed at encouraging men to become women’s social and economic equals, in part by taking on more responsibility for childcare and domestic work.

“Women feel frustrated to carry the burden of care. This burden is not only economic. Women are sometimes also exposed to lots of parenting stress due to the lack of support from some fathers,” Lewkas said.

But he warned that naming and shaming was not the solution.

“Research shows that blaming and shaming contributes to a lack of paternal involvement and might further isolate fathers,” he said.

“There is no justification for not paying maintenance. If there is a suspicion of maintenance abuse, fathers or any other citizen can go to the maintenance office and report the alleged abuse. The law makes provision to investigate these allegations,” Lewkas said.

Pretoria News