According to stats provided by Fathers.com: “More than 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father. Millions more have dads who are physically present, but emotionally absent. If it were classified as a disease, fatherlessness would be an epidemic worthy of attention as a national emergency.”
Still not convinced? Consider these sobering statistics:
- According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 1 in 4 children live without a father in the home.
- 57.6% of black children, 31.2% of Hispanic children, and 20.7% of white children are living absent their biological fathers.
Source: Family Structure and Children’s Living Arrangements 2012. Current Population Report. U.S. Census Bureau July 1, 2012.
- 71% of all high school dropouts are the byproduct of single-mom-managed households.
- Young men who lack father role models in the home are twice as likely to end up behind bars.
The reality is chilling.
Now you may be thinking that this plaguing problem doesn’t concern you, if you are single and childless. Or if your kids are grown and gone. Or if you reside in an affluent area, even. Not necessarily. Think again. It’s everybody’s problem.
Here’s how it impacts all of us, regardless to your “hood,” status, or background…
Turn on your local news. Any night of the week—pick any channel. What you’ll likely see are our youth—angry and without direction. Too many killing, stealing, Internet bullying. Gang violence is rampant. Not just in Chicago, but around the country.
There’s no doubt about it: though there are many environmental, social and economic factors that figure into the “big” picture, an even greater contributing factor is that the vast majority of these lost souls don’t have a dad to dole out discipline or to define what it is to be a man.
As a result, these adolescents get their role modeling from their peers; pop culture; the hustlers in their neighborhood; or gangsta rappers. Consequently, they try to exhibit and prove “manhood” in destructive, violent, and dysfunctional ways.
Often this leads to gang involvement, criminal activity, truancy, unprotected sex, (another misguided means of establishing “manhood”), and unwed parenting.
Father.com site states further: “ – A study using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health explored the relationship between family structure and risk of violent acts in neighborhoods. The results revealed that if the number of fathers is low in a neighborhood, then there is an increase in acts of teen violence. The statistical data showed that a 1% increase in the proportion of single-parent families in a neighborhood is associated with a 3% increase in an adolescent’s level of violence. In other words, adolescents who live in neighborhoods with lower proportions of single-parent families and who report higher levels of family integration commit less violence.
Source: Knoester, C., & Hayne, D.A. (2005). “Community context, social integration into family, and youth violence.” Journal of Marriage and Family 67, 767-780.
For girls, the lack of a father plays out differently, but nonetheless, detrimentally. Many times, (though not always), not having a father figure can cause young girls to seek the affection, attention and approval of the opposite sex in non-healthy, physical, mental, and emotional ways. Which can lead to teen pregnancies, poverty, and poor self-esteem. Or, it can manifest, years later in what is known as the “Abandonment Syndrome” whereby these females have trust issues to overcome in their marital or dating relationships in adulthood.
THE TAB SOCIETY PAYS…
Translated? This means more tax dollars devoted to prisons, police patrol, social programs and public aid. This phenomenon also contributes to innocent blood being shed, pain and devastation to families and communities . This is not just a financial issue; it’s a moral and social one, with far reaching impact.
SOMETHING TO CONSIDER ABOUT THE DADDY DEFICIT AND HOW SOCIETY CAN CONTRIBUTE TO SETTLING THE TAB :
An excellent way of providing healing and direction to our youth is for more African-American men, and men in general, to offer their services, support, and experience to volunteer programs with at risk youth, or through involvement in school mentoring or church sponsored programs. Or provide instruction in a trade or apprenticeship program. Additionally being a positive role model to nephews, nieces, cousins, sisters and brothers, can have a positive influence. Sometimes it takes so little to mean so much.
REWRITING THE NARRATIVE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
It should be noted, that this piece does not in any way suggest that women who raise kids as single parents can not do an excellent job without partners; they can. Many have!
But typically, these ’super women” have a great support system in place, and great role models of both sexes; either through their relatives and or friends. And if the situation applies, you should too.
It’s important to keep in mind that at the end of the day, these kids are our future. As the African proverb states, “It takes an entire village to raise a child.”
JENNIFER BROWN BANKS is a veteran freelance writer, award-winning blogger, student of life, columnist and chocolate enthusiast.
She has published 800+ articles, essays, columns and commentary pieces online and in print publications.
She resides in Illinois.