In the face of a storm of protest from father and child advocates, Domino's Pizza has withdrawn its support from a highly publicized campaign by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox which encourages child involvement in the collection of child support.
Over the past year Cox has targeted so-called "deadbeat dads" in Michigan with punitive measures and billboards which feature large handcuffs bearing the slogan "We Never Treat Deadbeats with Kid Gloves." His recently announced billboard campaign encourages custodial parents to have their children draw billboard designs critical of noncustodial parents who are allegedly behind on their child support.
Several advocacy groups, including the American Coalition for Fathers and Children and Dads of Michigan, along with nationally-syndicated radio talk show host Glenn Sacks and internet broadcaster Richar' Farr of KRightsRadio, have protested the campaign. A letter to Domino's from the ACFC notes that the billboard campaign "inflames conflict between parents and psychologically abuses children...common sense should tell you how psychologically harmful it is to children to ask them to draw a negative picture of one of their parents."
Sacks told his listeners that "most fathers who don't pay, can't pay" and urged them to call and write Domino's. Sacks, who hosts His Side with Glenn Sacks, cited a Michigan Family Independence Agency study that says that almost 90% of all Michigan child support arrearages are owed by those earning less than $10,000 a year. He added:
"Many divorce settlements specifically say that parents are not allowed to denigrate or badmouth their ex-spouses in front of their children, and Mike Cox, the top law enforcement official in the state of Michigan, tells custodial parents to have their kids design billboards targeting their fathers!"
Farr emphasized that "children should never be dragged into discussions of adult issues like child support, visitation, or other divorce or family breakup topics. Divorce is already painful for kids....this campaign is encouraging more negativity."
In a prepared statement, Domino's said "we were not informed about this contest in advance, nor did we endorse the use of our company name in conjunction with it." The company has asked the Attorney General's office to be removed from the list of sponsors for the contest, and is planning to issue a public apology as early as today.
©2007, Glenn Sacks