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Where Have All The Fathers Gone?

November 15, 2017 Frontpage No Comments


Like most political bodies, our local school board gets its share of criticism. How are students doing? What percentages are functioning at grade-level? Are the graduation rates acceptable? What about minority students and those from low-income families? And the list goes on.
The response by school officials is usually to break down the statistics and present numerical evidence to show that the district is operating in an acceptable range. Thus we are treated to how many students read, do math, and science at grade-levels, and the number of dropouts each year, and how the district’s minority and low-income students are doing. They give you numbers, graphs, and pie charts to make their point.
But I have always noticed that the one statistic they never give to us is a breakdown of the success or lack thereof by students coming from single-parent families, especially those from fatherless homes. And the reason, I suspect, is not that school officials want to hide the numbers, but rather that the answer would not be deemed politically correct.
We spend a lot of time in this country — and the world, for that matter — trying to make everyone feel good. So everyone is allowed their own lifestyle and is free to do whatever makes them feel fulfilled, regardless of the consequences to society or their own children. To say otherwise would be to disrespect their self-identity and cause them needless pain. The truth, therefore, is judged by the requirements of political correctness and thus must yield to PC standards.
As we all intuitively know we are facing a mounting array of social ills due to the loss of fatherhood — a wretched concept of a bygone era that now has no place in our modern self-aggrandizing culture. Fathers needed in the family? Come on, give me a break.
Well, here’s the statistic that the local public schools don’t want you to have: 71 percent of high school dropouts in the country are from homes without fathers — that is nine times that of their counterparts from intact families.
“Fatherless children have more trouble academically, scoring poorly on tests of reading, mathematics, and thinking skills; children from father absent homes are more likely to play truant from school, more likely to be excluded from school, more likely to leave school at age 16, and less likely to attain academic and professional qualifications in adulthood,” reports Professor Edward Kruk, Ph.D., in a 2012 article in Psychology Today.
Also consider this: According to government statistics, 43 percent of children in America live without a father in the home. Additionally, it has been reported that approximately 40 percent of children in fatherless homes have not seen their father at all during the past year; 26 percent of these fathers live in a different state than their kids, and half of these young people have never set foot in their father’s home!
Tell me we don’t have a problem.
Eighty-five percent of youths in prison come from fatherless homes; the level of aggression in boys is much higher in mother-only homes. Only 13 percent of juvenile delinquents are from intact homes; 33 percent have parents that have divorced or separated and 44 percent come from homes where their parents were never married. And a 2002 Department of Justice report found that 46 percent of jail inmates had a previously incarcerated family member and 20 percent had a father in jail or prison.
Children from fatherless homes are ten times more likely to drink and abuse drugs; 75 percent of young people in drug rehabilitation programs are from fatherless homes.
Adolescents without fathers are 20 times more likely to have behavioral problems and represent 85 percent of that population, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Ninety percent of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes and 63 percent of all youth suicides are from fatherless homes, says the U.S. Department of Health. They are five times more likely to suffer physical abuse and the risk of fatal abuse is 100 times higher than for children in two-parent homes.
Girls in fatherless homes are abused more often, are more likely to engage in promiscuity and become pregnant as teenagers, and have a greater likelihood of engaging in sex by age 15 compared to their peers, and 71 percent of teenage pregnancies are to children of single parents.
Interestingly, this statistic only applies to girls in homes where there was never a father. In homes where the father has died, female statistics are almost equal to those in intact homes. This shows the effect of having a solid male role model on daughters, even when that role model is lost to death.
Which tends to support the research of Professor Emeritus David Popenoe, Ph.D., of Princeton University and author of Life Without Father who wrote: “A surprising suggestion emerging from recent social-science research is that it is decidedly worse to a child to lose a father in the modern, voluntary way than through death. The children of divorced and never-married mothers are less successful by almost every measure than the children of widowed mothers….And there is reason to believe that having an unmarried father is even worse for a child than having a divorced father.”
Sixty-five percent of all violent crimes against women were committed by boyfriends or ex-husbands; only 9 percent were committed by husbands.
Income-wise, adults who were fatherless are more likely to experience unemployment, have lower incomes, remain longer on public welfare, and are more likely to become homeless, reports Professor Kruk. Moreover he writes, “[F]ather absent children tend to enter partnerships earlier, are more likely to divorce or dissolve their cohabiting unions, and are more likely to have children outside marriage or outside any partnership.”
And the statistical potpourri continues: Half the children living with single mothers are living in poverty, a rate six times higher than children with both parents; 72 percent of adolescent murderers were fatherless as were 60 percent of rapists.
“Given the fact that these and other social problems correlate more strongly with fatherlessness than with any other factor, surpassing race, social class, and poverty, father absence may well be the most critical social issue of our time,” Professor Kruk wrote.
“We ignore the problem of father absence to our peril. Of perhaps greatest concern is the lack of response from our lawmakers and policymakers, who pay lip service to the paramount importance of the ‘best interest of the child,’ yet turn a blind eye to father absence, ignoring the vast body of research on the dire consequences to children’s well-being,” he added.
So where do we go to start to rectify the situation? Obviously lawmakers, judges, and social workers have an important part to play in the solution. But I think the problem may be a little deeper, and perhaps more simple than that. We need to teach young boys to become men, to take responsibility for their actions, and especially responsibility for their children, and for their wives, sisters, and girlfriends.
In short we need to teach, and allow them to develop according to how nature intended them to grow. Boys should be allowed to be boys, and girls, girls. One thing this means is that traditional gender and family roles should be respected and encouraged. (And no-fault divorce should be ended, but that is for another column.)
Families, and in particular schools, need to stand up and be accountable for each child’s proper role development. In particular, schools need to recognize and honor male and female traits rather than putting emphasis on feminized behavior such as docility and cooperation, traits found more naturally in young girls than in young boys. Writes Christina Hoff Sommers in The War Against Boys, “But increasingly, in our schools and in our homes everyday boyishness is seen as aberrational, toxic — a pathology in need of a cure.”
She lists three cultural trends as factors that exacerbate the problem: First, the therapeutic approach to education which values feelings and denigrates competition and risk, male traits; second, zero tolerance policies that punish the normal antics of young boys, and the gender equality movement which views masculinity as predatory.
And one personal observation: I was recently asked to speak to the last meeting of a Confirmation class of grade school students who would be moving on to high school shortly. Those conducting the event wanted me to give some advice about becoming adults. I ended my talk with a message to the girls:
“You have probably heard it told to you to always act like a lady. That may be good advice, but it is not what I would necessarily give to my daughter. My advice to her would be to know how a lady should be treated and demand that treatment from everyone.”
Here that, Boys? Parents? Girls? We need to start them off right, and if we do statistics and human nature will keep them there. It will no doubt be a long slog, but it will have the power to transform culture and to restore proper balance to families.

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