Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Respond to the Fatherless

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.

1 comment:

Daniel McLain Hixon said...

I have heard or read somewhere that "being brought to church by dad" is the biggest indicator of whether or not a youth will continue in active church membership or not. Something like 70% chance of continued involvement (if brought by dad) verses 30% (if brought by mom without dad).
I think this simply demonstrates the (un-PC) reality that men, or father-figures, do (for whatever reason) exercise a disproportionate amount of spiritual influence and leadership (or they fail to do so). I am convinced that the breakdown of the two-parent family is the single biggest problem in our society. Whether this is a new problem or not, I have not done the research, but I suspect (if for no other reasons than relaxed social expectations) it is worse now than in past decades/centuries.