Friday, February 29, 2008

Weaker Families = More Crime

Michael Gurian lists some amazing and disturbing statistics on page 183 of his book The Wonder of Boys.
  • –Poor parents are twice as likely to break up as those with money. Once parents break up, a male child’s probability of becoming a criminal and a female child’s probability of becoming pregnant before the age of eighteen rise exponentially;

  • –More than three fourths of crime in America, both violent and nonviolent, is committed by male children born to single parents or following their parents’ divorce;

  • –90 percent of the nation’s prison inmates up to age thirty-five were born to mothers under eighteen;

  • –About 20 percent of all violent crime is committed by children under the age of eighteen;

  • –Most of these offenders, whether jailed or not, return to committing crimes;

  • –90 percent of these offenders are boys.
The cause of these problems, asserts Gurian (with the support of much research) is that we have created a cultural climate that is in many ways antithetical to the physiology of developing human males. The segments of the population where the greatest problems exist are also those segments of the population where the greatest dissonance between culture and physiology exist.

Boys, says Gurian, need a stable family structure with caring parents of each sex. Especially as boys move into their second decade of life, they need strong adult male mentors that show them what it means to be a man — to accept responsibility, to overcome natural urges, to stand up for what is right. Adult female mentors are needed too, but their role is heavier during the first decade of a boy’s life.

No matter what the politically correct version says, Gurian charges that there is no way mentors of either sex can successfully teach a boy what he needs to learn from the opposite sex. Thus, our massive experiment with fatherlessness is producing dramatic societal costs.

Couple increased fatherlessness with the steady decline of volunteerism, and you have large swaths of adolescent American males that are left without adult male mentors that are positive role models. It was once more common for boys to be involved with groups like Boy Scouts where they regularly interacted with positive adult male mentors.

Boys now spend significantly more time with video games and computers. When they do get out, their male role models are other boys that are only a couple of years older than them and that know little of what it means to be a productive member of society. The problem is particularly egregious among the less affluent segments of society.

Most of the goods and ills that we see in broader society are a reflection of the state of our homes and families. It is bluntly obvious what we should be doing to strengthen our own families. How to help others do the same — particularly those most at risk — is not as simple.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. Frightening stuff. You may also want to check out the following article published in the San Francisco Chronicle in December of 2007:

Many young black men in Oakland are killing and dying for respect
by Meredith May

"There are entire blocks without a single two-parent family, where drug dealers have become the predominant male role models..."

"...certain Oakland neighborhoods have an abnormally high per capita rate of killers walking the streets. They are known, feared, and have an incredibly toxic influence on impressionable young boys aching for structure."

"In these neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, all the doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, architects and postal workers have left. The kids have nobody but drug lords to look up to."

Scott Hinrichs said...

I heard a news report the other day that said that experts are surprised that with the increasing mobility of society, people are increasingly choosing to live near people that look and think like them.

All of the good male role models are gone from poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Kids grow up with a bizarre caricature of what real men are. Then they model what they see.

But I'm not about to move to one of those scary neighborhoods and try to raise my family there.

The unintended side effect of throwing money at the poor (or at the poverty activism industry) is that men in those societies are not needed. They are more of a liability than an asset. Since society doesn't need them they have no real reason for being. So they behave in destructive ways.