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Sunday, September 10, 2006

The ignored tear in the American fabric; the destroyed family structure.

"The family is the corner stone of our society. More than any other force it shapes the attitude, the hopes, the ambitions, and the values of the child. And when the family collapses it is the children that are usually damaged. When it happens on a massive scale the community itself is crippled. So, unless we work to strengthen the family, to create conditions under which most parents will stay together, all the rest — schools, playgrounds, and public assistance, and private concern — will never be enough."

President Lyndon Johnson

I decided not to recreate the wheel here. After researching the topic I wanted to write on, I realized that there is some very good text out there. So here is just some tid bits from the Heritage foundation. To read more see the link of marriage and family in the blog info links section.

The underlying dynamic of child abuse--the breakdown of marriage and the commitment to love--is spreading like a cancer from poor communities to working-class communities. As social scientists, community leaders, and legislators consider ways to stop the spread of this cancer, they must focus their attention on the most upsetting byproduct of the disintegration of family and community: the abuse, maiming, and even death of America's infants and young children, about 2,000 of whom--6 per day--die each year.2

2U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, A Nation's Shame: Fatal Child Abuse and Neglect in the United States, Fifth Report, United States Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, 1995

Early childhood victimization has demonstrable long-term consequences for delinquency, adult criminality, and violent behavior.... The experience of child abuse and neglect has a substantial impact even on individuals with otherwise little likelihood of engaging in officially recorded criminal behavior.12

12Cathy Spatz Widom, "The Cycle of Violence," Science, Vol. 244 (1989), pp. 160-166.
The study conducted by the Family Education Trust in Great Britain meticulously explored the relationship between particular types of family structure and abuse, accumulating clear data on family configuration in actual cases of abuse from 1982 to 1988. The results of this study shed light on a pattern that is highly correlated with child abuse today in both England and the United States: the absence of marriage and the presence of cohabitation.

The evidence from Great Britain is especially significant because, to date, this is the only study to explore the relationship between family structure and abuse. Specifically:

The safest environment for a child--that is, the family environment with the lowest risk ratio for physical abuse--is one in which the biological parents are married and the family has always been intact.
The rate of abuse is six times higher in the second-safest environment: the blended family in which the divorced mother has remarried.
The rate of abuse is 14 times higher if the child is living with a biological mother who lives alone.
The rate of abuse is 20 times higher if the child is living with a biological father who lives alone.
The rate of abuse is 20 times higher if the child is living with biological parents who are not married but are cohabiting.
The rate of abuse is 33 times higher if the child is living with a mother who is cohabiting with another man.


Fundamental changes are needed to correct the social drift toward family and community disintegration in the United States. Unfortunately, the well-intentioned efforts of the past three decades have not stemmed the tide. But they have done one thing: They have shown that the changes that must be made are beyond the capacity of government.
Many of these fundamental changes must take place within the most basic of institutions: the family unit. They must be supported by changes in local communities and reinforced by community institutions like the churches and their ancillary organizations that help the needy, as well as by programs like Big Brothers and Big Sisters. These institutions and organizations can have the greatest effect in reestablishing the centrality of marriage and promoting the married family unit as the best environment for the raising of America's children.


Today, nearly one-third of all American children are born outside marriage. That translates to one out-of-wedlock birth every 35 seconds. Of those born within marriage, a great many will experience their parents’ divorce before they reach age 18. More than half of the nation’s children will spend all or part of their child-hood in never-formed or broken families.

In 2000, federal and state governments spent more than $150 billion each year subsidizing single-parent families. The number has risen steadily since then.


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