The impact of American children being raised by unmarried parents has shown not only negative effects on children, but also negative effects on families, communities, society, and the economy as a whole.
The demographic breakdown of American families reveals the impact broken families have on each ethnic and racial group. Issues of belonging and rejection among children being raised in families that are not intact have shown increases in negative behaviors and lifestyle choices. The breakdown of traditional families and impact of lifestyle choices is making a great impact on the economic environment of our country. Solutions to what has become a global problem remain not only in the hands of a select few, but also the American people.
An accurate measure of how American families are faring reflects the percentage of children that grow up in intact homes, in which both parents are legally married to each other.
For example, studies show that only 45% of U.S. teenagers live in intact families in which the biological parents are married. Analysis of the 45% reveals the ethnic breakdown of teenagers living in intact families, with the highest, at 62%, being Asian-Americans and the lowest, at 17%, being African-American teenagers.
Also, teenagers living in intact families report higher levels of belonging as opposed to those that live in families where both biological parents are not present.
Of the four U.S. regions, the northeast reports the strongest sense of belonging among teenagers at 50.4%, while the south reports the weakest at only 41%. A further breakdown of the largest U.S. cities reveals that the highest percentages of teenagers that live in intact families live in suburban counties with relatively well-educated, affluent populations.
State County % of Adolescents Intact Families
New York Nassau 71%
Massachusetts Middlesex 63%
California Santa Clara 57%
Washington King 53%
By contrast, the largest counties with low proportions of adolescents living in intact families are predominantly urban areas with a high concentration of ethnic minority groups with relatively low levels of education and income.
State County % of Adolescents Living in Intact Families
New York Bronx 22%
Pennsylvania Philadelphia 24%
Michigan Wayne 31%
Nevada Clarke 38%
Florida Miami-Dade 39%
The driving force behind feelings of rejection among adolescents is caused by increased rates of divorce and raising children outside of marriage. Today in America, raising children in stable, two-parent families is the exception, rather than the norm.
According to a 1995 survey of the Family Growth Report for the national Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), of 1,000 marriages, 3.6 divorces occur. In 2009, the National Vital Statistics Report from the Center for Disease Control reported that 41.0% of infants were born to unmarried mothers. Of those, 72.8% were black infants, 65.4% were American Indian or Alaskan Native babies, 53.2% were Hispanic babies, 28.6% were white infants, and 17.2% were Asian or Pacific Islander.
The consequences of raising children in unmarried families have shown higher proportions of poverty, higher dependency on the government for support, increased occurrences of domestic abuse, child neglect and abuse, delinquency, crime, drug abuse, academic failure and school dropout, and teen pregnancy.
In contrast to this, a study derived from the U.S. Census Current Populations Survey shows the positive impact married families have on the economy. Married families are the largest contributors to wealth in the U.S. Married families also report the highest income and savings, which directly affects the government by generating revenue for the economy. With the decline in stable American families, the government has had to find resources overseas to cover its debts that have accumulated as a result of expectations by American citizens and the government.
The decrease in emphasis on the importance of intact families has major implications for the United States. Because a decrease in strong families results in many negative consequences, the U.S. is at risk of jeopardizing its leadership position among all nations. Therefore, it’s essential that biological parents assume their responsibilities and leadership roles within their families to ensure they are positively impacting the fundamental units that make our society successful.
The long-term solution to our economic problems is to grow intact American families. Part of the solution to mending the breakdown of American families is for American men and women to learn how to belong to each other and commit to raise the next generation together. For optimal success, men and women must feel supported in their responsibilities. Therefore, it’s vital that everyone place emphasis on the importance of building and maintaining intact biological families, while doing their part to support and encourage the development of these families.
The mass media can play an important role in promoting the ideal of intact families with biological parents. So far, however, it has done almost the exact opposite.
You can make an impact on turning that around by supporting MOVIEGUIDE® and all of its efforts to redeem the values of the mass media by promoting the traditional family and spreading the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
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