Former Republican Congressman George Radanovich wrote a commentary for The Fresno Bee’s opinion section Friday urging conservatives to take on “fatherlessness, unwed pregnancy and divorce.” He argued that this issue is a “higher and greater cause that conservatives should champion.”
Radanovich is correct, but it’s not just a cause for conservatives. All of us need to be concerned about the impact of absentee fathers. It costs society in many ways, including a reduced quality of life, a greater burden on government programs and higher crimes rates. The growing acceptability of fathers not taking responsibility for their children is a stunning development for our country.
Radanovich said children in father-absent homes are two to three times more likely to:
– Be victims of child and sexual abuses.
– Do drugs.
– Experience educational, health, emotional and behavior problems.
– Become teen parents.
– Engage in criminal behavior.
“But there is a flicker of hope from the private sector. In 1997, a group of civic leaders in Chattanooga, Tenn., came together to form a communitywide initiative to rebuild, renew and revitalize their city by restoring families,” Radanovich wrote. “Called First Things First, they set three strategic goals to reduce fatherlessness, unwed pregnancy and the divorce rate all by 30% in 10 years. After 15 years, they have seen a 27% decrease in the divorce rate, a 63% decrease in teen out-of-wedlock pregnancies and a significant increase in father involvement in the lives of their children.
“By persuasion and encouragement within their communities, they harnessed the power of the private sector, not legislation or government, to achieve this goal. Their unique approach has triggered many to replicate similar initiatives in other cities across the country.
“In addition to achieving the same rate of success as Chattanooga, a California group, Restore Fresno, seeks to reduce or eliminate government social programs that facilitate the destruction of families while the private sector strengthens them.”