EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


June 21, 2013

Column: Fatherless homes and the rise of gun violence

The killings in Chicago are easing up, thanks to special cop programs. That was the good news from The New York Times recently. Then, not many days later, there was another spate of deadly shootings, telling us that even though law enforcement efforts matter, lots of other things matter, too.

I am not talking about gun control. Though better background checks would make sense, the crucial facts are that there are some 300 million guns in the nation, very few criminals purchase guns from retail outlets and lessening the flow of some tributaries is not going to keep people from drowning in that ocean.

In the end, the issue is not gun control, but violence control.

At the margins, that means we must have better, though insistently fair and cautious, means of locating and tethering the mentally disturbed who show up in schools or movie theaters to wreak their horror.

More fundamentally, it means we must get at the root causes of gang and other criminal killings that take far more lives a year than the sporadic mass shootings. That means serious focus on fatherless homes.

I do not say solutions here are easily found, but I do say it is obvious that we have entered a period of egregious excess in fatherless homes and that out of this comes social dissolution that includes violent crime.

The statistics tell us that 72 percent of adolescent murderers come from fatherless homes and that there are strong ties as well with other crimes, poverty, dropping out of school and psychiatric problems.

After the gun slaying of a 15-year-old Chicago girl who marched in a band at his inauguration, President Barack Obama gave a speech in that city, saying that nothing “would be more important for us reducing violence than strong, stable families — which means we should do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood.”

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