Jay Am­brose: Fa­ther­less homes a fac­tor in mass shoot­ings

Calhoun Times - - OBITUARIES -

The worst so­cial prob­lem in Amer­ica to­day could well be fa­ther­less homes. While there are myr­iad ex­cep­tions, and while fa­thers in the home can be neg­li­gent or ac­tively harm­ful, the statis­tics are over­whelm­ing about how chil­dren can get cheated out of de­cent lives by their ab­sence. There is also a con­nec­tion to an ab­so­lute hor­ror. That would be mass shoot­ings, such as the one in Park­land, Fla.

The adop­tive fa­ther of the 19- year- old killer of 17 peo­ple, Niko­las Cruz, died when he was 6, not the usual way in which a son is left with­out a male role model. Far more of­ten, it is fa­thers flee­ing their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, the mother never get­ting mar­ried or di­vorces. But, in the case of Cruz, we still had a strug­gling mother who needed help and a son as out of con­trol as Dy­lann Roof or Adam Lanza.

Roof is the white su­prem­a­cist who slaugh­tered nine African- Amer­i­cans in a Charleston, S. C., church. His par­ents were di­vorced be­fore he was born. Adam Lanza is the mass shooter who killed his mother and then 20 first graders and six staffers at Sandy Hook El­e­men­tary School in New­town, Conn. Dur­ing the pre­vi­ous two years, he had not even talked to his fa­ther.

The list goes on and on, as Brad Wil­cox will tes­tify. He is a pro­fes­sor and di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Mar­riage Project at the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia, stud­ied school shoot­ings in 2013 and found all the per­pe­tra­tors had ei­ther had a mother who never got mar­ried or had seen a di­vorce in the fam­ily. CNN once looked at the dead­li­est mass shoot­ings in U. S. his­tory, not­ing that, of the seven killers un­der 30, only one had his bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther around his whole child­hood.

Con­sider a joint fed­eral study show­ing that 63 per­cent of youth sui­cides are from fa­ther­less homes; as of­ten as not, mass shoot­ers are si­mul­ta­ne­ously sui­ci­dal. Robert Samp­son, a Har­vard so­ci­ol­o­gist, has ob­served that ur­ban vi­o­lence is con­cen­trated in neigh­bor­hoods with mostly sin­gle- par­ent homes. A Michi­gan State Univer­sity study found 75 per­cent of ex­am­ined ado­les­cent mur­der­ers were from fa­ther­less homes. The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol says 85 per­cent of chil­dren with be­hav­ioral dis­or­ders have only a mother in the home. Wil­cox also says chil­dren with both mar­ried par­ents around are less likely to drop out of school, to be­come drug ad­dicts or to grow up im­pov­er­ished.

Vast num­bers of chil­dren from sin­gle­par­ent homes – that’s now 42 per­cent of all chil­dren – can and do clearly shine bright, thank heav­ens. The idea here is not to pre­judge any­one. But this na­tion is kid­ding it­self if it does not rec­og­nize that a strong nu­clear fam­ily is the fun­da­men­tal foun­da­tion of so­ci­ety, that Amer­ica in re­cent decades has been wit­ness­ing dis­so­lu­tion of the fam­ily and that this goes to the heart of so much that has gone wrong.

Some like to put the blame on poverty, but sin­gle- par­ent homes are of­ten an in­sti­ga­tor of poverty and com­par­isons of poor chil­dren in two­par­ent homes and one­par­ent homes show poverty alone is not the is­sue. Some also con­sider it de­mean­ing to say a woman can­not al­ways do it all by her­self, leav­ing out the truth that it can be un­be­liev­ably cruel to a woman to ex­pect her to. Gov­ern­ment pro­grams are nowhere near the so­lu­tion some be­lieve they are.

Yes, as I have al­ready men­tioned, there can be bad fa­thers, but the good ones, the in­volved ones, have so much to of­fer. And just as moth­ers bring some­thing spe­cial to the rais­ing of chil­dren, so do fa­thers. To turn our backs on mar­riage, to sup­pose that co­hab­i­ta­tion is just as good, is to turn our backs on chil­dren — and on the vic­tims of mass shoot­ings.

There are many other fac­tors in mass shoot­ings, of course, and they need ad­dress­ing. Cul­tural change is ar­du­ous and slow with no easy po­lit­i­cal an­swer. But much will stay the same if noth­ing is done about fa­ther­less homes.

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