Critics Blast Michigan's 'Deadbeat Parent' Billboard Campaign

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - Critics say an effort to capture "deadbeat" parents in Michigan is going too far - by enlisting children in the cause.

Domino's Pizza recently withdrew its support for a campaign by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who wants kids to draw billboard designs criticizing the dads or moms who are behind on their child support.

Several advocacy groups, including the American Coalition for Fathers and Children, Dads of Michigan, nationally syndicated radio talk show host Glenn Sacks and others have protested the campaign.

In a letter to Domino's, the American Coalition for Fathers and Children wrote, "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 urged his radio listeners to lodge protests with Domino's. "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," Sacks said.

In a statement, Domino's said it was not informed about the contest in advance -- "nor did we endorse the use of our company name in conjunction with it."

The company said it has asked the attorney general's office to be removed from the list of sponsors for the contest, and says it plans to issue a public apology soon.

Over the past year, Cox has targeted "deadbeat" parents in Michigan with punitive measures and billboards featuring large handcuffs bearing the slogan, "We Never Treat Deadbeats with Kid Gloves."

A Michigan Family Independence Agency study that shows that almost 90 percent of all Michigan child support arrearages are owed by those earning less than $10,000 a year.