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The Human Carnage of Fatherlessness

"The deteriorating condition of children - ranging from violent boys and promiscuous girls to abused children of both sexes - has become a regular feature of the daily news. The linkage of these now-familiar conditions to Fatherlessness is empirically verified by a voluminous body of social and behavioral research.
Because children represent the future of our society, these negative consequences are a social calamity in the making. It is a misfortune not just for those children affected by it but for every family member."
- Professor David Popenoe: "Life Without Father".


"Almost anything bad that can happen to a child occurs with much greater frequency to the children of divorce and those who live in single parent families."
- D. Popenoe

Child well-being over the past thirty years has deteriorated markedly:

The main source of evidence for the social and behavioral disadvantages to a child of growing up in a single-parent family is five nationally representative, large-scale social surveys. - per G. Sandefur and S. McLanahan: "Growing Up With a Single-Parent."

Children who grow up with only one of their biological parents:

"Evidence about the negative effects of divorce on the social and behavioral development of children is now legion in the social sciences. Although not always an intended measure of Fatherlessness, divorce-effect studies provide in fact such a measure because most children of divorce end up living in single-parent families apart from their biological Fathers." - D. Popenoe.

The children from divorced homes:

Per social psychologist Judith Wallerstein, "A significant number of children (of divorce) suffer long-term, perhaps permanent detrimental effects from divorce...":

A number of studies reach the same conclusions:


"Of all the negative consequences of Fatherlessness, juvenile delinquency and violence probably loom largest in the public mind: There are too many little boys with guns." - D. Popenoe


"(Much) serious child abuse, especially sexual abuse, is committed by men. The men who have greatest access to their children are Fathers. Since Fathers participate less in the lives of their children today than ever before and children are (most) often under the sole care of their mothers, wouldn't you suppose that the rate of child abuse would have dropped? Unfortunately, quite the opposite has happened. As Fathers have left home, the rates of child abuse have increased, and reported sexual abuse has increased at a faster rate than all other forms of child maltreatment."
"By 1990, when over two million combined cases of child abuse were reported to social service agencies, the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect pronounced that the amount of child maltreatment in the United States had reached the level of a national emergency."

So if it's not Biological Fathers, Who is it?:

Sexual Abuse:

"Why does living in a female-headed, single-parent family have such an elevated risk for child sexual abuse?" First is the decrease in the quality and quantity of supervision and protection children receive. Second is that children from single-parent homes tend to be more emotionally deprived and needy, therefore vulnerable to the ploys of sexual abusers. Finally, Fathers are not around to provide the supervision and protection that children need to avoid sexually-molesting acquaintances and strangers. Protecting daughters from the sexual overtures of other men has long been a major role of fathers. - D. Popenoe

Physical Abuse:

"An important difference between physical abuse and sexual abuse is that both women and men are heavily represented as abusers." "A mother is much more likely to be abusive and to allow others to mistreat her child when she does not have the support of an actively involved (Biological) Father." - D. Popenoe

Physical Abuse by Stepparents:


"Fatherlessness appears to generate more violence toward women just as it increases violence toward children." "Modern family changes have not decreased violence against women, they have increased it." "As the number of unattached males goes up, violence toward women increases." "In fact, marriage appears to be a strong safety factor for women." - D. Popenoe

Recent surveys of violent crime victimization (1979-1987: Caroline Wolf Harlow, 1991. "Female Victims of Violent Crime", Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, p.4.) have found that:

Finally, Fatherless children mostly grow up without a "protector"; without good role models (for sons) and male-relationship models (for girls); without positive models of mother-father interaction; without the kind of supervision that Fathers can provide. These children also grow up being subject to much higher levels of physical and sexual abuse, to say nothing of neglect and emotional maltreatment.

Children Deprived of Fathers: The Most Popular Form of Child Abuse

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The bulk of this text is directly quoted or slightly modified from: "Life Without Father" - Professor David Popenoe, 1996.
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