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We just celebrated Father's Day. I had important topics to write about, so this subject arrives afterward. Over 25 years ago, I wrote my first newspaper column. The subject was this question, "Where have all the fathers gone?" The statistics are much worse now. Half of America's school-age children are being raised in a home with no male present. Men have abandoned their kids. Daddy has disappeared. What effect has this had?

The numbers and surveys are shocking. These facts don't mean that there are no individual exceptions. Most certainly there are. One example is Dr. Ben Carson. He serves as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the president's cabinet. He was raised by a single mom. She was strict. Dr. Carson's remarkable story was made into the movie "Healing Hands." Many boys and girls being raised by a solitary mother do go on to become successful human beings. But they are not the norm. They broke out of the pack and became notable for their accomplishments. More power to them. But, why put barriers to success in the pathway of any child? Kids deserve a daddy. They need a father. The two-parent family is the best environment to raise successful human beings. And, it is much easier on the mother if she has a helper.

Sociologists have studied America's family extensively. I've been a teacher in hundreds of public classrooms. I've seen the results of single parenting first-hand. Where are our children learning self-control, discipline, or responsibility ... much less, morality, honesty, and truthfulness? From what I've seen, not at home! I once quoted these startling findings to a city police chief. He was astonished. He couldn't believe it. Yet he knew his officers were dealing with an ever-increasing rate of juvenile crimes, disrespect and lawlessness.

Here are some hard facts. A girl raised by a single mom has a far greater risk of early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy than a girl raised in a two-parent home. The demand for abortions increases because of childhood pregnancy -- children having children. The rate of illegal drug use multiplies for any child in a single-parent home. Boys are much more likely to become involved in a gang if they are raised with no daddy in the home. Grades at school are significantly lower for any child raised in a single-parent home. High School students are much more likely to drop out of school if they grow up in a fatherless family. What about our cities? Street shootings and gang violence are more likely in a neighborhood as the percentage of fatherless homes in that area increases. These statements are true and hold up to scrutiny.

Kids can't raise themselves. It takes a man to teach a man to be a man. Kids get biologically older without emotional maturity unless they are trained. Teachers impart knowledge but only parents can train. Fathers do it best if they will. The impact on society due to children not going to college, not being motivated to learn a trade, not having a wholesome model of how a mature man should behave, not growing up to marry a woman or raise their own kids -- failing to multiply more healthy families -- all of this is a huge drag on America's economy.

As I make these statements, I know there are exceptions. But facts don't lie. The pattern is undeniable. Fatherlessness due to AWOL men is an epidemic that costs America more than we can possibly imagine. Our overfilled prisons are proof that this is true.

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Ron Wood is a retired pastor and author. Contact him at [email protected] or visit or follow him at Touched By Grace on Facebook. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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