Want to stop school shootings? Then strengthen the institution of marriage

I am sort of lukewarm on W. Bradford Wilcox, because I think he’s a moderate to left person, but this article in National Review is pretty good.

Excerpt: (links removed)

Another shooting, another son of divorce. From Adam Lanza, who killed 26 children and adults a year ago at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn., to Karl Pierson, who shot a teenage girl and killed himself this past Friday at Arapahoe High in Centennial, Colo., one common and largely unremarked thread tying together most of the school shooters that have struck the nation in the last year is that they came from homes marked by divorce or an absent father. From shootings at MIT (i.e., the Tsarnaev brothers) to the University of Central Florida to the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, Ga., nearly every shooting over the last year in Wikipedia’s “list of U.S. school attacks” involved a young man whose parents divorced or never married in the first place.

[…]The social scientific evidence about the connection between violence and broken homes could not be clearer. My own research suggests that boys living in single mother homes are almost twice as likely to end up delinquent compared to boys who enjoy good relationships with their father. Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson has written that “Family structure is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, predictor of variations in urban violence across cities in the United States.” His views are echoed by the eminent criminologists Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi, who have written that “such family measures as the percentage of the population divorced, the percentage of households headed by women, and the percentage of unattached individuals in the community are among the most powerful predictors of crime rates.”

Why is fatherlessness such a big deal for our boys (almost all of these incidents involve boys)? Putting the argument positively, sociologist David Popenoe notesthat “fathers are important to their sons as role models. They are important for maintaining authority and discipline. And they are important in helping their sons to develop both self-control and feelings of empathy toward others, character traits that are found to be lacking in violent youth.” Boys, then, who did not grow up with an engaged, attentive, and firm father are more vulnerable to getting swept up in the Sturm und Drang of adolescence and young adulthood, and in the worst possible way.

In previous posts, I have argued that it is women who need to be thinking about how children need fathers, and to be more careful about evaluating and selecting men who can do the jobs that men do in marriage. Protecting, providing, moral/spiritual leading.

It probably would also be a good idea to roll back policies that weaken and redefine marriage. I don’t just mean same-sex marriage. I mean no-fault divorce, and the normalization of premarital sex. Basically, anything that weakens the stability of marriage and the male-female fit inherent in marriage ought to be shamed and opposed. Children need mothers and fathers. We shouldn’t be promoting or subsidizing any behavior or lifestyle that encourages people to have children (on purpose or accidentally) outside of a carefully-considered marriage relationship.

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