Inner-city children increasingly grow up in broken households. Fractured and incomplete families perpetuate physical and spiritual poverty. The root cause of poverty and income disparity is undeniably linked to broken family structures. Children growing up in poor, broken households in inner-city America are increasingly exposed to child abuse, teenage pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse, gang participation, and incarceration. They are also at a higher risk of having broken families of their own. Our nation's inner cities are in need of intact, whole families.
The American family structure is disintegrating. In 1950, 12 percent of children born in the United States entered into a broken family lacking either a biological mother or father. By 2000, this number had jumped to 60 percent of all children. Unfortunately, the frequency and density of broken families dramatically increases in the impoverished environments of our inner cities. Poor, broken families produce people who are more likely to experience relational and financial poverty as well.
The fatherless homes that riddle our cities are often toxic environments for our inner-city youth. Fatherless children average significantly higher in terms of teen suicide, illegitimate birthrates, incarceration and unemployment. Reports also show that children from fatherless homes make up:
- 85 percent of youth in prison
- 85 percent of children with behavioral disorders
- 75 percent of adolescents in substance-abuse treatment centers
- 71 percent of all high school dropouts
- 70 percent of adults serving long-term prison sentences
Broken family environments greatly contribute to the cyclical nature of inner-city poverty.