Monday, March 5, 2012

The Physics of the Family – Part 10 of The Twelve-step Program for American Recovery

It was only the 4th paper I’d read that evening and I was already crying. Junior English narrative essays didn’t always elicit that much emotion, but this student described the night his dad slammed him against the wall, shaking him like a rag doll with both hands around his neck, trying to strangle him. The young man had had practice telling the story; he had already testified in court as the key witness in his father’s trial for attempted murder.

I wish that story were the only horrifying paper I ever had to read, but it’s not.  I wish I hadn’t gotten entangled is some of the families I had to deal with, but it taught me first hand what our society is up against. Ask any teacher what the state of the union is and you’ll get an earful. Schools are on the front lines and are the biggest window into the conditions of the family in this country, and the view isn’t pretty.

You can walk through the halls of any public high school and see the ravages of the disintegrating family. Counselors at my high school estimated that 60% of our students came from dysfunctional situations. Much of drug use goes back to family instability, as does a great deal of poverty, to say nothing of crime. Unhappy, unstable individuals are less likely to become knowledgeable, productive, self-disciplined members of society. They are less likely to make wise decisions, and more likely to just give up and let someone else runs their lives.

But let’s not take my word for this. According to the New York Times 29% of white children are born out of wedlock, as well as are 53% of Hispanic children and 73% of black children. reports that in 1960 65.9% of women 15 years and older were married. In 2009 only 50.6% were married. Big deal?