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The Bill Comes Due - Our Children Are Paying The Price For Our War On The Family
“By far the largest part – eighty percent at least – of crimes against property and against the person are perpetrated by individuals who have either lost connection with home life, or never had any, or whose homes had ceased to be sufficiently separate, decent, and desirable to afford what are regarded as ordinary wholesome influences of home and family…”
Jacob A. Reis, “How the Other Half Lives”, writing about New York City’s slums in 1890.
What Reis knew, and what everyone with any common sense knows today, is that the key factor in preventing crime and delinquency is the family. It is not monthly welfare checks. It is not government-sponsored counseling programs, free lunches, or anything else. What keeps kids from turning to crime is a stable home life.
Kids need structure. Kids need discipline. Kids need stability. Kids need role models.
Walk into the worst slums of India and you will see children coming out of hovels in which the average American would not spend the night, wearing clean clothes and walking off to school with smiles on their faces. Mom spends her days trying desperately to scrape together dinner, washing the few clothes the family owns, and sweeping the dirt floor of the one-room shack in which the family lives. Dad toils in the broiling sun at hard, physical labor.
The kids do not become hooligans. The kids do not commit murder. The kids do not roam the streets like wild animals devoid of discipline or morality.
Those children, desperate as their lives are, grow up knowing right from wrong and understanding what it means to be civilized.
Humans have understood all this for millennia. And yet somehow well over fifty years ago our federal government decided to abandon all of the collective wisdom we had acquired as a species and embark on a mad experiment. We would adopt policies that weakened the family structure, turned everyone into a ward of the state, and made material “benefits” in the form of public assistance the only measure of “success.”
The result has been catastrophic. In our inner cities in particular we have created hellscapes and condemned generations of our citizens, particularly African Americans to deep poverty. In places like West Baltimore tens of thousands of young men and women live in areas where intact families long ago ceased to exist and the only viable employment opportunities involve murder and narcotics trafficking.
In Baltimore, a city of less than 600,000 there were 333 murders in 2022. There were another 688 non-fatal shootings. Even those gruesome statistics are misleading. Take a look at maps online that show where the murders and shootings occurred. There are big chunks of the city where no one is shot. There are blocks in parts of West Baltimore where multiple murders occurred within a few yards of each other.
Now take a look at the statistics on births out of wedlock and single-family homes. In the parts of West Baltimore most prone to violence marriage is essentially a thing of the past. Maybe ten or fifteen percent of households are married couples.
Overall close to two-thirds of the kids in Baltimore live in single-parent homes. Most of those live with their mothers. Something like 80% of black kids in the city do not have a father who plays any role in their upbringing.
Baltimore is not unique. Sixty percent of all black kids in Virginia live in single-parent homes. Seventy-seven percent of black children in Washington, D.C. are born to unwed mothers.
The impact of all this is catastrophic. Forty-one percent of Baltimore’s public high school students earn below a 1.0 grade point average. Only fifteen percent of the city’s high school students test at or above the proficient level in reading. Only eight percent test that well in math.
One-third of all high school students in D.C. drop out and never earn their degrees.
This is the new normal, kids without any semblance of family life, no role models, and devoid of even a semblance of a formal education. The results are predictable and on full display all over the nation.
Over the weekend huge crowds of teenagers gathered in downtown Chicago. Fights broke out everywhere. Two teenage boys were shot. A massive police response was required to restore any semblance of order.
A similar scene played out recently in Baltimore. Huge numbers of young people rampaged downtown vandalizing property and destroying motor vehicles. Two children aged 14 and 16 were shot in front of police officers. Mayor Brandon Scott has now announced a citywide curfew for minors that will go into effect this summer. Minors aged 14 and under must be indoors by 9 PM, while those between 15 and 17 must be indoors by 10 PM.
Responding to the violence in the city Baltimore City Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said, "Either they [the kids] don't care about consequences or don't believe the consequences, and they have no respect for human life or the sanctity of life or authority to pull off that brazen cowardly act right there in the presence of police officers."
In announcing the impending curfew, Mayor Scott said, "I want everyone to hear me and hear me very clearly. We are going back to the old days. We will be enforcing the use of youth curfew in Baltimore as we move into the later Spring and Summer months."
The old days did not involve curfews. The old days involved Mom and Dad living together, raising children as a family, and teaching their kids right from wrong. There were consequences for bad behavior. Society did not think welfare checks and public housing raised kids. They understood families did.
We have waged war on all those principles for decades. We have forgotten what our ancestors knew and how they lived. The bill for all that is coming due, and our children are paying the price.