Thursday, August 27, 2009


It was probably about a month ago that a group of volunteers from a church in the suburbs of Chicago was here for a week to work with day camp, and I got to listen in as one of the CDC staff (Mark) was talking to them about white privilege and racism and what it means to serve in an urban environment as white people. They were very attentive and engaged, for high school students, and toward the end asked some very constructive questions.
One of the questions was a bit of a tangent. Someone asked Mark that with the crazy web of issues -- poverty, education, drugs, violence, etc. -- what did his think the most significant issue for us to address?

The answer surprised me. Actually, the fact that mark had a single issue he thought was most rudimentary surprised me more than the fact that that issue was fatherlessness.

I mentioned before in statistics of our neighborhood that 73% of houses with children here do not have a father living in the home.

Today I came across these general statistics about fatherlessness in Donald Miller's book To Own a Dragon (I haven't read it, just looked inside the back cover):
  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes -- 5 times the average.
  • 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes -- 20 times the average.
  • 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes -- 14 times the average.
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes -- 9 times the average.
  • 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes -- 10 times the average.
  • 70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes -- 9 times the average.
  • 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes -- 20 times the average.

Lord Jesus, have mercy.


Belinda said...

I can gratefully say for a fact, He does have mercy

Joshua said...

Can you please explain the statistics to me?

I'm trying to grasp how far this reaches, but I can't get past the math. What is the average that each refers to? I'm confused.

inos said...

I'll use the first stat to demonstrate. 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. The comparison to the average is just another way to state the percentage, I believe. If you pick at random a youth who has committed suicide, he/she is five times more likely to come from a fatherless home than not? Does that math work out?

fendeilagh said...

not sure that math works. Picking a youth at random who has committed suicide and having that youth being five times more likely to be from a fatherless home would be 83.33% which is 5 times the remaining 16.66% of youth suicides which are from homes with fathers.

63% is apparently 5 times some other average statistic, which in this case is numerically 12.6%. I think this means that if youth suicides were distributed evenly across different types of homes, then 12.6% should be from fatherless homes, but instead 63% are, 5 times more than should be.

This method doesn't really work for the next statistic though, because if you were distributing it evenly, then 12.6% should be the average for each one of these and then 85% would only be 6.7 times the average, not 20.

I'm lost too.