In a Wall Street Journal article, James Wilson points out the urgent need in our society for families led by fathers: “An employed father helps persuade a young boy that getting a job makes more sense than hanging out on a street corner, even if the job they get does not pay much. When there is no father, the boy is likely to think that his goal is to do what other boys do–become a stud, join a gang, steal money and sell drugs.
“And fathers help protect their families. They are the first line of defense, guarding their wives and children from unsavory lures and dangerous predators. The police, by contrast, are what an old friend of mine once called linebackers: They can at best fill in when the fathers’ defensive line gets a hole punched in it. Without active and committed fathers, boys are alone in a risky world, making gangs look attractive. Their buddies provide what fathers cannot–self-defense.
“The evidence that mother-only families contribute to crime is powerful. When two scholars studied data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, they found that, after holding income constant, young people in father-absent families were twice as likely to be in jail as were those in two-parent families. And their lives did not improve if their mother had acquired a stepfather. Fill-in dads don’t improve matters any more than do fatter government checks.
“Family disorganization is more important than either race or income in explaining violent crime. While it is true that both poor people and African-Americans commit more crime than do wealthier and white ones, the sociologist Robert Sampson has shown that in poor neighborhoods the rate of violent crime is much more strongly correlated with family disorganization than it is with race. William Galston, once an assistant to President Clinton, put the matter simply. To avoid poverty, do three things: finish high school, marry before having a child, and produce the child after you are 20 years old. Only 8% of people who do all three will be poor; of those who fail to do them, 79% will be poor.” (from “The Family Way” by James Q. Wilson, The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 7, 2003)