Donald Miller, of Blue Like Jazz fame, sent me an email today.
Miller's the founder of The Belmont Foundation, a group seeking to respond in different ways to the tragedy of children growing up in fatherless homes. I understand that this issue is a major theme in Miller's latest book, To Own A Dragon.
The email included some figures that I found rather striking, probably because the isn't a situation that I've taken much time to consider before.
The Cost of Absent Fathers
63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. (U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
75% of adolescents patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes. (Rainbows for all God’s Children)
70% of juveniles in state operated insitutions have no fathers. (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report)
85% of youth in prison had no fathers at home. (Fulton Co. Georgia jail population, Texas Dept. of Correction)
90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. (U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (National Principal Association Report on the State of High Schools)
Sure, correlation doesn't necessarily imply causation, but these numbers are still hard to look past. I also have to wonder where in these statistics you'll find children in homes with two mothers, or where the children with two dads fit into it all. Regardless of these considerations, take note of this need. Christians are called to meet all sorts of needs in all sorts of ways, and I hope that at very least this particular need will begin to receive more attention than it has, at least in my experience.
“The Belmont Foundation seeks to effectively respond to the crisis of fatherlessness by equipping the faith community to provide life long, trust based mentoring relationships with young men in an effort to affect long-term change.”
If you'd like more information on The Belmont Foundation, visit their website at belmontfoundation.org.