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September 10, 2008

Comments

Greetings.

This is Vince DiCaro of the National Fatherhood Initiative. Thank you for posting about our new study, The One Hundred Billion Dollar Man. You are right in pointing out that we did not estimate the higher costs for the criminal justice system as a result of widespread father absence (1 of 3 children nationally in father-absent homes). The number would be too much of a guess, so we only stuck with what we could come up with reasonably precise measurements for, thus the conservative estimate.

As for your review of the research on the consequences of father absence, I do not think it is accurate to imply that there is a one-to-one ratio of studies that show a correlation between father absence and crime and those that don't. From our extensive review of the research, which is summarized in our Father Facts publication (www.fatherhood.org/research.asp), a significant majority of the research does in fact show that father absence is a significant contributor to crime.

Additionally, even if it is true that father absence is just one of a "constellation of variables" contributing to crime, then it is still a variable, and likely one that contributes to many of the other variables in the constellation, such as poverty and school failure. Therefore, reducing father absence remains high on the list of priorities for reducing crime.

Finally, while mentoring is a much-needed and helpful endeavor (both of my parents are mentors through Big Brothers Big Sisters), there will frankly never be enough mentors. However, every child has a father. We need to focus on keeping them engaged in their chilren's lives. Also, what happens all too often with mentors is that it is very difficult for them to maintain the long-term relationship with their mentee that seems to be necessary in order for an impact to be made.

We must do all we can to encourage mentoring, but we must also do all we can to help men be the kinds of fathers their children need them to be.

Sincerely,
Vince

Vincent DiCaro
Senior Director of Public Affairs
National Fatherhood Initiative
240-912-1270
vdicaro@fatherhood.org

Thank you, Vince, for your superb comment and for the work you do on the important Fatherhood Initiative. I was reading elsewhere yesterday and came across the term “deep solutions” or something like that. I believe the authors were talking about wholesale sea-changes that would have to happen for something to be different than it is now. I think that the fatherhood question brought on by the $100 billion man report requires that kind of “deep solution”, one that challenges nearly every (governmental & societal) system we currently have in place. The mentoring notion was a “Band-aid”, an effective solution that someone could do something about right now, but not a “deep solution”.

This, I don’t have to tell you, is a complex issue that probably needs “deep solutions”.

Drew,

No problem. I am glad to be able to contribute.

The thing about mentoring is this: According to mentoring.org, there are 17 million children who need mentors. But there are currently only 3 million mentors, mostly women. They are desperate to find male mentors, and African American men are very rare in the mentoring pool.

So, how many mentors does it take for each child who grows up without a dad to make up for that dad’s daily involvement? One good dad can manage 3 kids. How many good mentors would it take to manage those three kids for 18 years?

Also, the “big question” is this: if father involvement is not that important, what do we tell a guy who just got a woman pregnant? Do we tell him to stick around? To move on? And if we do tell him it is ok to move on, do we then tell him that because mentoring is “important” that he should make himself available to mentor other people’s children?

Thanks for posting the comment and for your response.

Vince

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