Twenty months ago, I wrote “Republicans Should Man Up on Fatherlessness”. Being extremely familiar with the horrifying burden fatherlessness creates, the article was my attempt to shed light on the many ways our institutions, both government and corporate, create fatherless children and diminish the institute of fatherhood.
The piece generated a few responses in the Washington Examiner, PJ Media, The Conservative Woman and National Parents Organization, but few shares, likes or action to address the actual issue.
Then, as we all knew it would, came Parkland.
In predictable fashion, the political talking points were pulled out by various constituencies; Democrats talked about gun control, Republicans talked about the Second Amendment, the National Rifle Association talked about freedom, Gender Feminists talked about “toxic masculinity”; and the meme’s and tweet storms ensued.
While this has all played out before, this time, something different happened.
Susan Goldberg’s piece “When Will We Have the Guts to Link Fatherlessness to School Shootings?” generated over 91 thousand Facebook shares, and was picked up by the NY Post editorial board. Suzanne Venker’s article “The desperate cry of America’s boys” created such an avalanche of emails, Fox News ran her follow up the very next day, “Missing fathers and America’s broken boys – the vast majority of mass shooters come from broken homes”. Warren Farrell’s interview “One Thing All School Shooters Have in Common” generated over 1 Million views in its first 24 hours. Glenn Beck dedicated an interview “Our nation is suffering an epidemic of ‘fatherless’ children” and Tucker Carlson Tonight, whose video generated a whopping 8.6 Million views, will dedicate his show, every Wednesday in March, to discuss what is happening to boys and men.
This is a level of attention, advocates fighting against fatherlessness, have not seen.
When Leading Women for Shared Parenting first began tracking “Fatherlessness in the News,” we noticed two things; 1) that, despite its portrayal, fatherlessness was a problem well beyond the inner city African American community, and 2) that local and regional editors, those in the trenches of American society, wrote about the problems caused by fatherlessness often, but national journalists had little interest. Despite it being the number one social issue in America, Time magazine’s last piece on Fatherlessness was in 2001.
Fatherless children are created in several ways, but as I’ve written previously, family courts are a huge contributor. This isn’t a surprise to the public as a National Center for State Courts poll found Americans believe the groups treated worst by our court systems are the poor, African Americans and divorced fathers. Yet fifty-two years after The Moynihan Report, the connection between creating fatherless kids and the negative consequences to society are still ignored by “elites”.
How have “elites” responded to the fatherhood crisis? As far back as 2001, David Blankenhorn wrote: “The main spending program we have for our young men across the country is prison construction”. If anything, things have gotten worse for our boys.
Dr. Warren Farrell, author of the upcoming book “The Boy Crisis – Why Our Boys and Struggling and What We Can Do About It” deftly summarized:
“At worst, when boys’ testosterone is not well-channeled by an involved dad, boys become among the world’s most destructive forces. When boys’ testosterone is well channeled by an involved dad, boys become among the world’s most constructive forces.”
Such is why gender feminists claims of toxic masculinity come in waves. When issues like Parkland happen, claims of toxic masculinity are screamed from the rooftops, but when men brave the flood waters of Houston, fight wildfires in Tennessee, or constantly risk their own safety to protect others, those same voices remain silent. Events such as Parkland, Charleston, Sandy Hook, and so many others deserve far more. They demand to address the root cause of the issue and, in the words of grieving Parkland father Andrew Pollack:
“How many schools, how many children have to get shot? It stops here with this administration and me. I’m not going to sleep until it is fixed. And Mr. President, we’ll fix it.”
Instead of fathers, direction and encouragement, what do we tell young men? Toronto psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson finds:
“We’re alienating young men. We’re telling them they are patriarchal oppressors and denizens of rape culture and tyrants in waiting and we fail to discriminate between their competence and their tyranny”
You can either try and find ways to treat the cancer or you can not make the carcinogen in the first place.
Sure, go ahead and discuss bump stocks, arming teachers, more school security, gun restrictions, background checks, mental health, The FBI, The Broward Sheriff’s Office, movie ratings systems, video games, and a seemingly endless series of connected issues.
But if you want to address this, and so many other issues at their core, stop the many institutions creating fatherlessness in America and get current fatherless kids the help they need.
Perhaps Parkland will be the turning point. Perhaps national media will give the top social issue in the country the attention it deserves. Because if we don’t address it, its not if another school shooting will happen…. It’s just when. And then we’ll just be waiting to see, if the shooter had a father.
Terry Brennan is the Co-Founder of Leading Women for Shared Parenting.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.