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By Miriam Merrill

Regardless of which side of the gun control dichotomy you fall on, I think we can all agree on one thing: lives are precious. As the nation tries to make sense of these recent tragic events, several alleged social and political culprits have been proposed all over social media and throughout news outlets. But the guiltiest party is one that no one really seems to be talking about: the disintegration of the family unit.

A few years ago, University of Virginia professor Brad Wilcox offered, “Nearly every shooting…in Wikipedia’s ‘list of U.S. school attacks’ involved a young man whose parents divorced or never married in the first place.” A plethora of studies support this notion. Teenagers with divorced parents are three times more likely to need psychological help within one year of the legal split. 70% of long term crime-committing inmates grew up in broken homes. Children of divorced parents are almost twice as likely to commit suicide or drop out of high school than those that come from in-tact homes. Marital status is the strongest predictor of domestic abuse – stronger than race, age, education, or housing conditions – and since children who observe aggression are far more likely to imitate it, this is an especially relevant statistic in talking about gun violence.

Especially dominant is the link between absent fathers and aggressiveness. Many feminists believe that “toxic masculinity” is at the root of societal violence, but it is actually the absence of good, honorably-directed masculinity that is to blame. Among the young perpetrators named on CNN’s Deadliest Mass Shootings in History list, only one of them grew up with an actively and present father in the home. A Canadian study found that growing up without a father can actually permanently alter the brain, making children more susceptible to mental illness, substance abuse, deviant behavior, and criminal activity. If that is not enough, how about data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which proves gun homicides and fatherless homes are directly correlated?

The fact is that the majority of children raised by single parents will grow up to be successful and happy; the antithesis of the aforementioned statistics. Of course there are other policies and procedures that need examining in addition to familial empowerment, but with too many parents losing their children annually from gun violence, why aren’t more people talking about this?

The statistics will never change if society fails to collectively remember the importance of the empowered family unit. Ignoring this essential, foundational part of society will only lend to the violence and destruction we witness in our world today. As we strengthen families, remembering the vital role of father and mother, working equally together and raising their families with values and morals that will strengthen their homes, we will help the world grow into a place where we no longer fear sending our children to school.

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