The Ignored Correlation Between Fatherlessness and Mass Shooters

No one wants to talk about the importance of fathers in boys' lives, because society is too concerned with not stigmatizing single mothers.

By Rachel Alexander Published on March 3, 2018

New gun laws would not have stopped the Parkdale school shooter. The laws already in place should have stopped him. They failed. The people responsible to protect the public from people like the killer dropped the ball. In any case, mentally deranged killers don’t care about laws.

We would be better off looking at preventing the factors that led to the shooting. One thing Nikolas Cruz had in common with other school shooters is the lack of a father figure in his life. His father died when he was young. 

Seven of the 19 shootings since 2005 were committed by young males. Peter Hasson at The Federalist observed that only one of the seven “was raised by his biological father throughout childhood.”

Homes Without Fathers

Others have seen the same thing. Stephen Baskerville, a professor at Patrick Henry College, says “by far the main predictor of shooting rampages — along with all other criminality and virtually every social pathology among young males — is a home without a father.”

Barbara Hollingsworth, writing for CNS News, observes, “Growing up without a father has a far greater statistical correlation to gun violence than most sociological factors, including poverty and gun ownership, a statistical analysis of gun homicides in the U.S. shows.”

“By far the main predictor of shooting rampages – along with all other criminality and virtually every social pathology among young males – is a home without a father.”

Marriage scholar Suzanne Venker found “a direct correlation between boys who grow up with absent fathers and boys who drop out of school, who drink, who do drugs, who become delinquent and who wind up in prison. And who kill their classmates.”

Terry Brennan of Leading Women for Shared Parenting observed that “72 percent of adolescent murderers grew up without fathers; the same for 60 percent of all rapists. 70 percent of juveniles in state institutions grew up in single- or no-parent situations.” She notes that “the number of single-parent households is a good predictor of violent crime in a community, while poverty rate is not.” Part of the solution lies in stopping the many institutions creating fatherlessness in America, she says.

Why Boys Need Dad

Warren Farrell, author of the newly released book The Boy Crisis — Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It, explains why. “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.”

Instead of having a father present to mold them, many troubled boys have their issues treated with drugs. Cruz’s mother told mental health workers in 2016 that he had prescriptions for ADHD, autism and depression. SSRIs, which are used to treat depression, can have severe side effects. They include mania, violence and obsessive suicidal intentions. These effects are stronger in children and teens, whose brains are still developing.

Sociologist David Popenoe notes that “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 need fathers. Some boys really need them. The data shows that. As Susan L. M. Goldberg asks in a column at PJ Media, “When Will We Have the Guts to Link Fatherlessness to School Shootings?”


Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC. She is a member of Leading Women for Shared Parenting.

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  • JP

    Part of the problem is no fault divorce that helps to create these situations. Couple that with a father’s busy career.

    • Professor X

      And on top of no-fault divorce, throw in the alimony, custody, and child support laws as well. In a family with younger children, if the husband stands up to nonsense from the wife, she can decide to file for divorce, take the kids, and let him pay for all of it. She can probably also move out of the area, forcing him to choose between giving up his home and job or even career, or seeing his kids every few months.

  • Abi Kindred

    The problem of these shooters will end only if men will go

    Men reclaim your children, your women – marry them, protect,
    provide for them, and take the authority of your home. Teach your kids the difference between right
    and wrong, and that being the good guy is good.
    Encourage excellence, good citizenship, and teach them how to be good
    parents to your grandchildren.

    Women, suck it up, be kind.
    Your attitudes are poison, your bitterness is rottenness. Your words are one of the most powerful weapons
    known to mankind but you must let the men be men; let them have the last word
    Women have the most wonderful gift to give and that is their kindness;
    there is nothing more spectacular than a gracious woman who knows how to
    overlook the faults of her man and love him with a sense of humor and

    There is a total breakdown in the family, the social
    structure which is the foundation of our society.

    We need to remember that we like each other; be a neighbor,
    be a friend, look at each other and smile.

    We also have a common enemy that is out to totally destroy
    us all. There are predators, and
    subversives which are part of communities who will go back into their holes if
    we just look at them. Who are they? You will find them in the school district
    approving anti-God curriculum, in the Islamic community, the Muslim
    Brotherhood, although not in the news are very much alive, they are those who
    encourage rebellion against our police and authorities. Their target is our kids, and our
    vulnerability is our kids.

  • Patmos

    Thanks for bringing this up. Too few do. Fatherless children is perhaps the biggest epidemic facing America today.

    Imagine if there were some sort of disease or virus that did the same type of damage to kids as fathers not being there, would society just ignore that too? It’s completely bonkers that this isn’t getting more attention.

  • GPS Daddy

    I think you hit one of the nails on the head here. There is so much pain in people from the failure of men as fathers. Another issue in mass shootings in the use of psychiatric drugs. Look of Dr. Lead, drleaf(dot)com. She is a good source on this. If she is right then psychiatric drugs may be another serious underlying cause. Fatherless boys/young men and put on psychiatric drugs that causes them to snap.

  • Lisa

    This is such a tricky time in history for families. Women are working and busy, tired, and they don’t know how to be submissive to their husbands or respectful. Men don’t know how to love their wives and lead and there aren’t enough good paying jobs for them to support their families. And we must not forget the women’s movement in the 60s and 70s, which really threw marriage for a loop.

    Imagine how interesting the national discussion would be if we actually start bringing things up. But I don’t see the unselfishness that’s necessary for successful marriages unless people have God. We need a revival.

  • tether

    Men need to be fathers and women need to step back out of the dads role and let him be the dad and the head of the household.
    For decades now the media has undermined and belittled the dads on tv.
    Portraying them as anything but respectable.
    Certainly not as role models for their children.

  • ArthurMcGowan

    For every fatherless boy who becomes a “shooter,” there are millions of boys whose lives are ruined by fathers who are absent, who are beaters, who are narcissists.

  • ArthurMcGowan

    Time to repeal the policies designed to destroy the family: the income tax, no-fault divorce, etc.

    • geokstr

      Welfare that provides a single mother with a better lifestyle than a young male just staring his working life can, lionization of single motherhood.

  • brothergc

    While I agree with the piece as written , lets not forget that our culture is somewhat to blame , Guns, violence glorified in movies, tv, vid games . The 10 commandments removed from out schools . God has been kicked out and this is what happens.

    • Bryan

      There are a myriad of factors that contribute to our current circumstances. None of the ones you’ve listed is more or less important than the one factor mentioned in the article. We need to work to fix or marginalize all of the factors.

    • NClaw441

      All of those points, which are valid, could be controlled by a father who cares.

  • Tom Zimmerman

    Along with people like The Rev Jesse Lee Peterson and Sylvia Thompson, I note regularly on my radio program that more than 70% of black children are born to unwed mothers. (Whites, almost 30%.) The absent father correlates to the over-representation of blacks in our prisons. But am I wrong that the overwhelming percentage of these mass shootings have been committed by whites?

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