The Problem


The number of boys growing up without fathers in their lives has reached epidemic proportions. High rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births have created a generation of fatherless boys.

The Magnitude of the Epidemic

  • One in three children are born to unmarried parents. [i]
  • An estimated 24.7 million children do not live with their biological father. [ii]
  • 43% of urban teens live away from their father. [iii]
  • 42% of fathers fail to see their children at all after divorce. [iv]
  • Since 1960 the rate of U.S. boys without fathers has quadrupled. [v]
  • 1 in 6 black men had been incarcerated as of 2001. If current trends continue, 1 in 3 black males born today will spend time in prison in his lifetime. [vi]

The Consequences

A recent Newsweek article “The Trouble with Boys” states “one of the most reliable predictors of whether a boy will succeed or fail in high school rests on a single question: does he have a man in his life to look up to? Too often, the answer is no.”

  • 85% of youths in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. [vii]
  • 71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. [viii]
  • 80% of rapists with displaced anger come from fatherless homes. [ix]
  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. [x]
  • Gang membership increased from 50,000 in 1975 to 1,150,000 in 2008. [xi]
  • 90% of homeless children are from fatherless homes. [xii]
  • 85% of children with behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. [xiii]
  • 90% of adolescent repeat arsonists live with only their mother. [xiv]
  • Fatherless boys are 4 times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems. [xv]

The Financial Cost

  • 5% of the adult male population is in or has been in prison, costing taxpayers $75 billion a year. [xvii]
  • The prison incarceration rate more than quadrupled since 1975. [xvi]
  • A boy leaving high school to enter into a life of crime or drug abuse can cost his community $1.7–$2.3 million in his lifetime. [xviii]

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[i]Youthviews, Gallup Youth Survey 4 (June, 1997)
[ii] National Fatherhood Initiative, Father Facts, (3rd Edition): 5
[iii] Youthviews, Gallup Youth Survey 4 (June, 1997)
[iv] Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr. and Christine Winguist Nord, “Parenting Apart,” Journal of Marriage and the Family
[v] U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2007. Households and Families, Historical Statistics
[vi] Criminal Justice Fact Sheet. NAACP 2011
[vii] Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections, 1992
[viii] National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools
[ix] Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26, 1978
[x] US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census
[xi] National Youth Gang Center
[xii] U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census
[xiii] Center for Disease Control
[xiv] Wray Herbert, “Dousing the Kindlers,” Psychology Today, January, 1985
[xv] US D.H.H.S. news release
[xvi] Why Are So Many Americans in Prison? Raphael Goldman School of Public Policy 2008
[xvii] The High Budgetary Cost of Incarceration. Schmitt, Warner, Gupta, June 2010
[xviii] Cohen’s The monetary value of saving a high-risk youth, Journal of Quantitative Criminology