Report: America has a fatherhood crisis

(The Center Square)– Several reports indicate that America has a fatherhood crisis, which has created a culture of “floundering” young men.

Young men from non-intact families are more likely to end up in prison or jail, drop out of high school or not graduate from college compared to young men raised by their married biological parents with their father living in the home, a new Institute for Family Studies report argues.

“What we see for young men today is a family-to-prison-or-college pipeline that is more likely to deliver boys from intact families towards college graduation and boys from non-intact families towards prison or jail,” the report states. “Young men raised by their two married, biological parents are almost 20 percentage points more likely to graduate college than end up in prison/jail.”

It points to research conducted by an economics professor and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research who found that declining marriage rates are “driving many of the country’s biggest economic problems.” The research found that young men who grew up in a married household with their two biological parents are more likely to graduate college, among other outcomes.

The IFS report also points to a Journal of Research on Adolescence report that found that adolescent boys are more likely to be incarcerated if they grew up in father-absent households.

It also analyzes federal data that shows that “young men raised by their two married, biological parents … are almost 20 percentage points more likely to graduate college than end up in prison/jail. Strikingly, this is the only group where graduating college is more likely than prison/jail. Meanwhile, the statistic flips for young men from non-intact families.”

According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, nearly 20 million American children live in homes where their biological fathers do not live.

“Fathers influence their children’s development in unique and meaningful ways. Positive father involvement is associated with better outcomes on nearly every measure of child well-being, including being less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol and more likely to graduate high school,” the organization says.

Another IFS report points to data showing that fatherless families are more likely to be poor and “boys raised without their father are much more likely to use drugs, engage in violent or criminal behavior, go to jail, and drop out of school,” citing state and federal data.

The National Fatherhood Initiative first began raising awareness about the benefits of father involvement in 1994, working to equip communities through a range of training programs and resources. Over the last 30 years, it’s distributed more than 11 million fatherhood skill-building resources and trained more than 45,000 individuals working with dads.

It’s also collaborated with more than 10,000 organizations in communities and created a comprehensive reference manual about the impact of fathers in “Father Facts.” Its evidence-based 24:7 Dad and InsideOut Dad programs are also used by organizations nationwide, including those receiving federal “responsible fatherhood” grants.

On the state level, Florida has taken the lead in addressing the issue. In 2020, its state legislature unanimously passed a bill to allocate $70 million to fund a range of support programs for fathers.

Children not having a father in their home “has a severe impact on children, and often leads to dropping out of school, crime and substance abuse,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said when signing the bill into law. “Incredibly, there are those who diminish the importance of fatherhood and the nuclear family,” but in Florida, “we are doing everything we can to support involved fatherhood.”

Former House Speaker Chris Sprowls said at the time that while Florida “cannot legislate fatherhood, accountability or character,” it could “provide support for fathers to equip and encourage them to take an active role in the lives of their children.”