THE CHANG­ING FACE OF THE AMER­I­CAN FAM­ILY

Public News (Houston) - - NEWS - com­men­tary by Bart Pearston bart.pearston@pub­lic­new­son­line.com

Re­cently I had writ­ten on the racial un­rest and vi­o­lent crime in­creases across this great coun­try of ours, The cause that usu­ally goes un­di­ag­nosed and un­der-re­ported is the lack of a sta­ble home and/ or good par­ent­ing. It is hard to ig­nore the cur­rent trend.

The Pew Re­search Group has solid re­ports on just how dra­matic this has been. Most peo­ple know them for their sur­veys on Amer­i­can opin­ions, but this was much more fact­based and is con­firmed by the US cen­sus. So­ci­ol­o­gists dis­agree on the causes and their sig­nif­i­cance, so I will not at­tempt to an­a­lyze each. But here are some of the num­bers

Pew found.

In 1960, 73% of Amer­i­can chil­dren un­der 18 lived in homes with two het­ero­sex­ual, first mar­riage bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents. 14% were in homes with a sec­ond mar­riage, 9% in sin­gle par­ent homes, and 4% in homes with nei­ther bi­o­log­i­cal par­ent.

In 1980, the num­ber of the first group had fallen 12 points to 61%, the sec­ond group had only in­creased to 16%, the sin­gle par­ent homes jumped ten points to 19% and the fi­nal group held at 4%.

In 2000, the num­bers were 51% (still just barely the ma­jor­ity), 15% (still lit­tle change) but sin­gle par­ent homes grew to 29% while the no par­ent home nudged to 5%.

In 2013, the first non cen­sus year, they re­ported only 46% in the first group, 15% in the re­mar­ried group still, but 34% (over 1/3rd) in the sin­gle par­ent, and still 5% in the no par­ent group.

With­out delv­ing into the high di­vorce rate or sin­gle par­ent-by-choice is­sues, it is ob­vi­ous that those who wish to be­lieve “things are no dif­fer­ent to­day than they were 50 years ago” are just wrong. The break­downs for de­mo­graph­ics by so­cioe­co­nomic class, race, and ge­o­graphic lo­ca­tion are re­veal­ing.

This was doc­u­mented as far back as 1965 in the Moyni­han Re­port for the Depart­ment of La­bor de­tail­ing the neg­a­tive ef­fects pri­mar­ily in the ur­ban African-Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion by the late NY Sen­a­tor Daniel Pa­trick Moyni­han. I as­sume al­most ev­ery­one is fa­mil­iar with it. What is dis­turb­ing is that in spite of his clar­ion call for pol­icy and plan­ning that ig­nited LBJ’s “War on Poverty” things have ac­tu­ally got­ten worse.

Ac­cord­ing to the Ur­ban In­sti­tute, they have “got­ten worse not only for Blacks, but for Whites and His­pan­ics as well” in their new “The Moyni­han Re­port Re­vis­ited.” Ron Hask­ins, Se­nior Fel­low at the Brook­ings In­sti­tute, sum­ma­rized the re­port this way, “We have scores of stud­ies that show that kids that grow up in sin­gle-women-headed fam­i­lies don’t fare as well, are more likely to do poorly in school and to drop out of school, to be ar­rested, to be­come sin­gle par­ents them­selves,” he said. “These fac­tors re­in­force the eco­nomic dis­ad­van­tages that these kids face and im­pact the larger black com­mu­nity.” As di­vi­sive as most so­cial is­sues like abor­tion, gay mar­riage, and gun rights can be, this one should be an is­sue we should be able to find uni­form agree­ment on be­ing ad­dressed. The prob­lem is, I don’t hear any­one ad­dress­ing it.

Bart Pearston

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