The Impact of Fatherless Children
The last several decades have seen an alarming trend of increasing father absence or fatherlessness. Fatherlessness is widely recognized as a contributing factor to a myriad of social maladies in the United States. Father absence has been a subject of heated debate and the center of countless surveys, focus groups and opinion polls. There are some who disagree as to exactly how culpable absent fathers are for many of the social ills we’re seeing in our society today, but there’s no denying it is a problem. This paper will endeavor to show that in spite of often heroic efforts by single mothers to rear their children ...view middle of the document...
Fatherlessness is by no means a guarantee of future violence but if the number of men willing and/or able to shepherd their children decreases, is it any surprise that the resulting anger boils over in such unthinkable, deplorable acts? Possible explanations for this behavior will be discussed later.
In another telling indicator of the anger produced by fatherlessness, a 1993 survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that “Fatherless children are at dramatically greater risk of suicide” (USA Suicide Deaths 1979 to 1996, 2004). It goes without saying that just as there are other factors which play into rape, murder, and robbery besides fatherlessness, there are additional psychological and social factors that drive some toward suicide. But the hole that is left in a home and in a child’s soul as the result of an absent father and the emotion that is produced can manifest in many different forms. Some fires burn hot and explode. Other fires smolder and destroy quietly. Both are tragic.
One of the factors to consider when correlating rates of violent crime and the increased level of father absence is the age of the children involved. There is a gap of about 20 years from when a child is born into a fatherless home and statistics can begin to be accrued based on their very adult behaviors (Mackey and Immerman, 2007). Logical process would indicate that where violence increases along with fatherlessness, the opposite must surely be true as well, when controlling for other related factors. “If the biological and social fathering increases within a community, then (1) violent crime would be expected to decrease…” (Mackey and Immerman, 2007).
Juvenile delinquency is another index by which we can measure the damage done by father absence. According to a U.S. Department of Justice report, “70% of juveniles in state operated institutions come from fatherless homes” (U.S. Department of Justice special report, 1988). Fatherlessness is a social problem that government is neither designed nor equipped to handle. But as the statistic proves, government and society are forced to deal with the implications and ramifications of children growing up without the guiding influence of proactive fathers. Much of what leads to juvenile delinquency is the allure of gangs – for young men particularly. Robbed of the sense of identity and belonging that comes from a stable, loving home life, young men often turn to gangs in an effort to fill the void left by an absent father. Gang leaders become father archetypes and command the misguided loyalty and respect of younger men.
Closely related to the tendencies toward violence and juvenile delinquency is educational underachievement. In a report conducted by the National Principles Association it was found that 71% of high school dropouts are the products of fatherless homes (National Principles Association - Report on the State of High Schools, 2010). Not to cast any undeserved...