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America’s Unspoken Crisis Is a “War on America”

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 23, 2012 7:43 AM |

Can you imagine the lengths our nation would go to address and eradicate a social situation correlated very highly with activities (including juvenile murder and rape) that land people in prison?

Can you further imagine the outcry to address this social situation if it were also highly correlated with an increased risk of suicide?

What if over and above those high correlations, this social situation was also very highly correlated with children dropping out of school? Clearly the public outcry would be earth shattering and the march on Washington would be historic in nature, no? 

If those correlations were not enough to generate the front page eye-popping headlines, we have to imagine that the high correlation of this social situation perpetuating a cycle of poverty with accompanying social ills of increased substance abuse, obesity, . . . and more would carry the day.

We have just such a social situation in America and I believe it has reached crisis level. Yet, what do we hear? The silence is deafening and dangerous.

It is time for America to WAKE UP and start talking about this crisis that envelops our nation and is now, in my opinion, an epidemic. What is this great unspoken social situation that many in power and in the media work so hard to keep conveniently under the rug?

Single parent births.

Go ahead and rail on me for daring to elevate this issue and demand that it be discussed. Addressing single parent births is part of the “war on women?” Stop the nonsense.

The unspoken crisis that defines the rapidly escalating rate of single parent births is nothing short of a “War on America.” Really? Yes, really. What do you think is going on in Chicago and what drives the growth in gangs that dominate urban neighborhoods across America?

How is it that I define this crisis as a “war on America?” Let’s connect some dots and address some raw data on this topic. As evidenced in a comprehensive research piece, Family Structure, Family Stability and Early Child Well Being, the writers conclude:

. . . children born to single parents have the most consistently adverse outcomes.

What are some of the outcomes? Say what you want about Ann Coulter, but she pulls no punches in highlighting that:

Children raised by a single mother commit 72 percent of juvenile murders, 60 percent of rapes, have 70 percent of teenaged births, commit 70 percent of suicides and are 70 percent of high school dropouts.

Controlling for socioeconomic status, race and place of residence, the strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison is being raised by a single parent.

A 1990 study by the Progressive Policy Institute showed that after controlling for single motherhood, the difference in black and white crime disappeared.

Please recall what I wrote a few days back in My Sense on Cents Solution for America:

How often have we heard those supporting Obamacare promote that there are 30 million people uninsured in our nation? Very often.

How often have we heard that there are 25 million high school dropouts over the age of 25 in our nation? Not often enough.

I do not know the percentage of high school dropouts who are also uninsured but I do know that less than 40% of those over the age of 25 are employed. (WSJ, February 21, 2012, As Job Market Mends, Dropouts Fall Behind). That fact means we have at least 15 million unemployed dropouts over the age of 25 in America. Think there is probably a decent chance the overwhelming majority of these 15 million are uninsured? You think?

The New York Times highlights:

Less than 10 percent of the births to college-educated women occur outside marriage, while for women with high school degrees or less the figure is nearly 60 percent.

Broken down by ethnic groups, single parent families encompass:

Approximately 70% of new born African-Americans, 50% of new born Hispanic children, 30% of Caucasians, and 15% of Asian-Americans.

What is the ultimate reason why I define the growth and accompanying problematic implications of single parent births as a crisis, epidemic, and also a “war on America?”

Single parent births in America now top 40% of newborns. That statistic stood at 17% three decades ago. (New York Times; July 14, 2012).

While I commend and support every parent – single and married – who works tirelessly to support his/her child, the evidence and issues connected to single parent birth rates are overwhelming and frightening for our nation’s future. Time we start to have a serious national discussion on this issue because at that rate of growth, the decline of our nation will not only continue but will be increasingly swift and painful. You can count on it.

So let’s get President Obama, Mitt Romney, pols from both sides of the aisle, and others from a variety of agencies and institutions and let’s have the national discussion. Let’s make sure it is televised in prime time.

The social costs — in both hard and soft dollars — connected to single parent births are an insidious and very real war on America. High time for those who care about our nation’s future to stand up and put this issue front and center. . . or I guess we can continue to sit idly by and allow our nation to continue to decline? What is it going to be?

What do you think?

I welcome hearing from everybody who has an opinion on this most important of national issues. For those who feel and believe differently, along with your opinions, please provide data to support your premise.

Larry Doyle 

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I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

  • coe

    Sadly, I think you are touching a third rail issue here LD, but I tend to agree with the vital importance of the context. I looked up some statistics – in 1960, less than 10% of the population of children were being raised in single parent households in the US…in 2007, that number had grown to nearly 30% – a combination of changes in social mores and an increase in the divorce rate…surely the linkages to crime, school, health, and employment are too powerful to ignore – even if you concede that there may not be a cause and effect relationship in every case…and dare the issue of morality come up?

    My suspicion is these numbers are climbing – dangerously so.

    In our pluralistic society – a beautiful one in terms of the richness of our cultural and ethnic diversity, but one nonetheless in which individual liberties have seemingly trumped community responsibilities – it is certainly not politically correct to tilt at these sacred cows…I don’t buy the “war on women” argument either…courage/keep the dialogue loud – maybe enough people might hear to start a movement…

  • fred


    Let’s get even more specific, in the Chicago Public School System (CPSS) last year, 319 children were shot. Last year, more children were murdered in the CPSS than soldiers who died in the war in Afghanistan.

    The graduation rate in the CPSS is 57%, with less than 10% of graduating seniors deemed “college ready”. In the poorest areas of the CPSS, less than 23% of mothers are currently married.

    I’m not trying to pick on Chicago, I’m sure the ‘Chicago percentages’ translate quite nicely across most all major urban public school systems across America.

    We are CLEARLY in crisis, there is nothing less than a WAR going on in our inner cities and single parent households w/o a father are CLEARLY a major contributing factor to the violence.

  • LD

    To add further fuel to the fire on this topic,

    The single-mother revolution has been an economic catastrophe for women. Poverty remains relatively rare among married couples with children; the U.S. census puts only 8.8% of them in that category, up from 6.7% since the start of the Great Recession. But more than 40% of single-mother families are poor, up from 37% before the downturn. In the bottom quintile of earnings, most households are single people, many of them elderly. But of the two-fifths of bottom-quintile households that are families, 83% are headed by single mothers. The Brookings Institution’s Isabel Sawhill calculates that virtually all the increase in child poverty in the United States since the 1970s would vanish if parents still married at 1970 rates.

    The Los Angeles Times recently wrote, The Single Mom Catastrophe

    • fred

      Maybe it doesn’t take a “village” to raise a child, maybe it takes a “mother and a father” to raise one.

      What an innovative idea!

      • Jim

        There are very real forces at work to redefine what it means to be a family. Perhaps those forces should start to look hard at the points raised here.

  • fred

    Rather than crop dustings of political macro liberal lip service maybe it’s time for a focused injection of micro conservative activism, two parent value centric engagement into each child’s life.

    You got to start somewhere, why not in the first grade in Chicago, the last names starting with Aa. Send both parents to night school for high school equivalency, good parenting and job training.

    Participation and failure are not options.

    Surely, we can find some corporate and media sponsorship and volunteers to teach and provide day care. Why not expand the mission of the peace corp into the local community and/or put some of those financial industry wrongdoing settlements to good use?

    • LD


      I concur. Hopefully having a discussion of this crisis on a national level would lead to a series of programs and policies to address the issues and impact of this very real epidemic.

      I think your idea is a very good place to start. Beyond that, I always like the use of both the carrot and the stick. For those who choose not to participate then another version of the “NO MORE FREE LUNCH” program kicks in.

  • Small BD

    In their sampling, did any of the above-mentioned studies or surveys address or control for single-parent children who have been transferred into foster care? Well, the local kennel was more diligent in following-up on my adopted mutt than many social agencies aspire to after farming out foster kids.

    Sadly, the care of children rests near the bottom of American values. Penn State provided a great illustration of this point. It’s the same, tired story. Our regulators and agencies cater to the Madoff’s and Sandusky’s. And education / social services are always first on the chopping block. You may recall the former NYC Schools Chancellor’s comment about controlling the student population via sterilization. Apparently we’re not eating enough carrots. Welcome to America.

  • Michael

    And well you might ask, while you’re about it: who pays for the hospital and related costs associated with all these single-parent births?

    Incidentally, this particular elephant in the room is not predominantly white.

  • Rick

    it all comes down to culture….

  • Larry

    And yet, the right wants to eliminate abortion, cut aid to single parents, prohibits dissemination of birth control, and wants to cut head start and education programs, an cut the food programs.

    I simply ask, how will their proposals help improve and lessen the problems you note?

    • LD

      The points you raise would all be part of the necessary national discussion. The critical questions —and I do not pretend to have the answers — are what programs enable individuals and subsequently perpetuate the growth of single parent births? What programs actually help individuals strengthen their parenting and family development so the cycle is broken?

      I would hope the discussion would not be left vs right but ultimately what perpetuates vs what breaks the cycle?

      • Larry

        Agreed. But the law of unintended consequences has haunted some of these positions taken by the conservative brethren for years, with more about to explode on the scene if the Ryan budget ever sees the light of day. It’s easy to have a moral foundation until you are hungry and homeless, then property rights become less important than the burning emptiness in your or your child’s belly. There is right and there is dead right.

        With today’s report that poverty levels in this country are now the highest in 50 years, we desperately need a fix for today, while coming up with a plan for tomorrow.

  • Hawk

    good one … as a matter of fact

    GREAT ONE…..U running for office?

  • Bill

    LD, the left and most democrats will fight tooth and nail against any remedy to this epidemic because it fosters yet more dependency which is the fount of democrat power.

  • coe

    LD – your post got me thinking even more about “unintended consequences”…we have commented before around the issue of demographics…in this case I continue to be alarmed by the decline of the birth rate in the western world – especially when measured against the climbing rates in the Muslim world…the US is hovering just at or below what the social scientists describe as the replacement rate, perilously close to losing ground – both politically and in terms of human capital to face the bold new world

    I have to believe the acceleration in the single parent family dynamic cannot bode well for our population in a macro view – this in addition to all of the social, economic, and cultural problems it is also clearly linked to

    I don’t have a real answer – perhaps if two parent families showed the way by example in a more meaningful way, maybe others would get the drift – back to leadership – moral, political, economic, social…we can all make a difference

  • AN

    Too Bill above….Your insight is superb! The Right is so pure and the Left is pure evil. Try thinking about this topic from a humanistic and non-political point of view. These are problems requiring a more serious head. Thanks LD for bringing this up.

  • JLM

    I waited until I was age 45 to have a child by a father who was a genius but who had emotional problems and couldn’t care for a child.

    I retired and raised the kid alone, with 4.5 years help from my mother. The child is brilliant, is getting a doctorate on a fellowship, and an accomplished teacher and very stable person of age 29, now. A complete success. How did I do it?

    I picked the father who was talented and intelligent.
    I retired to devote myself 100% to child care (worked out of my home on the side). I had savings by the time I had her to help defray the hospital bills.

    I had no help from welfare, only from my mother. The child was planned. I did not have more than one, deliberately. I had an abortion (illegal) in 1966 to prevent having a child before I was prepared to properly parent. I could have died having the illegal abortion, so I am pro choice.


    • LD

      Thanks for writing. As you yourself state, “I am your exception” and as I state,

      “…I commend and support every parent — single and married — who works tirelessly to support his/her child…”

      If only each and every parent took the same steadfast approach to support and raise their child, perhaps we would be better off. Regrettably, though, the evidence and issues connected to single parent births are overwhelming and frightening. This evidence and these issues are undeniable yet regrettably they remain unspoken. Why?

      I think we may very well agree on a LOT more points here than not.

  • LD

    A very interesting read on this critically important topic in the New York Times Magazine highlights,

    But while the material gap has diminished, a different kind of gap has opened between poor and middle-class Americans: a social gap. In the 1960s, most Americans, rich, middle-class and poor, were raising children in two-parent homes; they lived in relatively stable, mixed-income communities; they went to church in roughly similar numbers; their children often attended the same public schools. Today, those social factors all diverge sharply by class, and the class for which things have changed most starkly is the poor. Damien may have a cellphone, but he has never met his father.

    The two social scientists who are most prominently chronicling these social changes today are Charles Murray, the conservative scholar, who wrote about them in his recent book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010,” and Robert Putnam, the progressive Harvard political scientist best known for his book “Bowling Alone.” What Murray and Putnam have each reported is that college-educated and well-off Americans today tend to raise their children in stable, two-parent families. Among this cohort, divorce rates have fallen over the last few decades. Rates of unmarried births are rising slowly, but they are still quite low. According to Putnam’s data, churchgoing rates have held steady since 1990, measures of social connectedness have gone up and the amount of time parents spend interacting with their children, especially their infants, has risen sharply.

    But among Americans at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale, things are quite different. Churchgoing has dropped since 1990 for less-educated and low-income Americans, and divorce rates have risen. Two-parent families are on the decline: in 2010, 88 percent of the children in the top third of the income distribution were being raised by married parents, and just 41 percent of the children in the bottom third were. While it’s certainly true that many single parents are raising happy and successful children, these trends as a whole are taking a significant toll on low-income children.

    “From a child-development point of view,” Shonkoff told me, “we know that being a child in a family at the bottom end of the disadvantage scale means that you’re going to be less likely to get the kind of parenting or other care-giving that will lead to good outcomes and more likely to face the kind of adversity that leads to bad outcomes.” For children, these social factors make a big difference — not just in their current well-being, but also in their future economic prospects. This is a relatively new idea in the study of poverty, but it is one that is gaining acceptance among scholars: a critical factor perpetuating poverty from one generation to the next is family dynamics and their effects on child development. This means that if we want to improve social mobility, we need to find a better way to help disadvantaged parents and their children.

    While this theory of poverty is still being debated by social scientists, it is not particularly controversial in poor neighborhoods. Obama saw it himself in Roseland. In “The Audacity of Hope,” Obama wrote that poor African-Americans were well aware of the role that family breakdown played in the perpetuation of urban poverty. As he put it, “black folks can often be heard bemoaning the eroding work ethic, inadequate parenting and declining sexual mores with a fervor that would make the Heritage Foundation proud.”

    I experienced something similar during my time in Roseland. Steve Gates is by no means a conservative, but when he talked about the root cause of the problems his YAP clients were facing in school and in life, he always came back to their home environments. “Take a close look at our kids’ family structures, and you get a perfectly clear picture of why they are the way they are,” Gates told me. “There is a very direct correlation between family issues and what the kids present in school. The lapses in parenting, the dysfunction — it all spills over to the kids, and then they take that to school and the streets and everywhere else.”

    What Does Obama Really Believe In?

  • LD

    Another article on the War on America runs in the WSJ,

    There is little national attention from policy makers. “I have not seen any federal legislation which would tackle the huge problem” of crime among black Americans, said Mr. Gale, a captain in the Denver County sheriff’s department. “I am not even sure what such a bill would look like,” he added.

    Because black-on-black violence tends to stay concentrated within poorer, inner-city areas, there is a lack of wider awareness of the depth of the problem, said Jack Levin of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University in Boston. “Nobody in this room would even know the name Trayvon Martin if it had been a black kid who shot Trayvon Martin,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, an African American, speaking at a gun-violence research forum.

    Communities Struggle to Break a Grim Cycle of Killings

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