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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