Fatherless America

At the recent second presidential debate at Suffolk University in New York, many people got their panties in a twist over comments made by Governor Mitt Romney regarding single motherhood and violence.

Romney said, “But let me mention another thing. And that is parents. We need moms and dads, helping to raise kids. Wherever possible the — the benefit of having two parents in the home, and that’s not always possible. A lot of great single moms, single dads. But gosh, to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone, that’s a great idea.”

A pretty standard statement from a conservative Republican and deeply religious man, right?  But no, those who only offer criticism usually like to overreact to common sense statements.

You would think that after defending the billionaire one percenter Big Bird on welfare — notice how they don’t talk about that anymore — they would have learned their lesson. But I guess it’s hard to teach some people new tricks.

What Romney was saying is not only factual, but it’s backed up by science. I thought they liked science.

This is not just my opinion. The studies overwhelmingly show that children who are brought up in stable two-parent families do better in life. Now some would like to quibble with that, but these are the facts but on a long list of measurements those whose children are from either broken or single parent homes suffer more from societal ills such as poverty and violence.

Of course, this does not mean that every child with two parents does better than every child without one; that would defy logic. There is always the exception to the rule like — LeBron James or even Barack Obama — but unfortunately, they are the exception and not the rule.

We have seen the deterioration of the family for the last 50 years. According to the reseach think tank the Brookings Institute, since 1965, out-of-wedlock birth rates have soared. In 1965, 24 percent of black infants and 3.1 percent of white infants were born to single mothers. By 1990, the rates had risen to 64 percent for black infants and 18 percent for white infants. Twenty years later it’s now 72 percent of black infants, 30 percent of white infants and 53 percent of Hispanic infants.

The numbers don’t lie and neither does the evidence.  The American Psychological Association study titled “Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth” found that children from low-income single-parent families are more likely to have less parental supervision and support, simply because the parent is under much more time and economic pressure.

This list is devastating:
•    63 percent of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census).

•    85 percent of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Source: Center for Disease Control).

•    80 percent of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes (Source: APA Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26).

•    71 percent of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (Source: National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools).

•    70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept. 2008).

The effects of all this is reflected in our cities. In my hometown of Chicago, over 400 people have been murdered by guns in the first seven months of the year. That’s 31 percent more than last year.

These murders aren’t happening in the leafy suburbs, but in the inner city, where poverty and fatherlessness in many of the neighborhoods approaches 80 percent and sometimes 90 percent.

This is an epidemic with consequences that not only affect our children, but our society. The United States faces a crisis of single mothers and fatherless children and until we recognize this fact, things will only further spin out of control.

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