Where Are the Dads? Treating Richmond’s Fatherless Epidemic

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The numbers led [Donald ] Stern to the same "inescapable conclusion" made by scores of sociologists, pastors, and pundits observing the post-Jim Crow black family: "There is a crisis in gender relations in the African American community. This is a painful reality."

Should a public health department—perceived as a government monolith unqualified to counsel individual men and women—try to change citizens' gender relations, encouraging fidelity, responsibility, and stable two-parent families?

When it costs a city $205 million every year in taxpayer dollars, say Stern and a number of Christians in Richmond, the answer is clear.

Read it all.

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Posted April 30, 2012 at 6:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Terry Tee wrote:

There are areas of London which would replicate the Richmond experience.  I found this, for example, in a report from the Centre for Social Justice:

Lone parenting rates peak at 60 per cent in Newham and more than half of all families with dependent children are headed by a lone parent in seven other boroughs: Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Haringey, Tower Hamlets, Hackney.
Teenage pregnancy rates in Lambeth are double the national rate for England and Wales and four times the rate for Richmond upon Thames. 


But it would take tremendous courage for any politician to speak to these facts.  The prevailing opinion in Britain is that families can be constituted in many different ways, and none is better than another.  We need a black church leader of courage, conviction and national standing to challenge these assumptions which lead to such bleak prospects for too many young black people, deprived of a strongly supportive family background.  But a firestorm would be loosed on him (or her).

April 30, 9:54 am | [comment link]
2. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Yes, Fr. Tee, Richmond isn’t alone is this terrible plight.  But as a Richmond area resident (although safely located out in the suburbs), I still found this report both encouraging and sobering.  I’ve long known the problems were bad indeed, but I was still unaware of just how bad.  However, I find this report mostly encouraging, as I was also sadly unaware of the existence of RFFI, the Richmond Family and Fatherhood Initiative, and its unusual and welcome efforts to deal with the root causes of these entrenched, massive social problems.  It’s heartening to know that so many earnest Christians have dedicated themselves to making a real difference in the whole culture of the city, and especially in the large black ghetto.

It’s so good to read that Richmond’s out-of wedock birth rate and abortion rate, while still unacceptably high, have dropped to the lowest levels in 20 years, thanks to the commited Christians involved in RFFI, and similar efforts.  For example, one of my best friends among the clergy in Richmond is a 50-ish white man who used to be a Presbyterian pastor (now a non-denominational evangelical) who moved into a low-income black neighborhood in north central Richmond and he and his equally dedicated and devout wife are pouring themselves unreservedly into helping rebuild African American families and community life in one of the depressed “hoods,” using a similar, church-based program developed by the famous Mississippi black evangelical pastor John Perkins.

It’s ironic that I had to read about this local ministry (RFFI) through a national publication like CT and on this blog.  But hey, I’m grateful that this encouraing ministry was highlighted by both sources.  Thanks, Kendall.

David Handy+

April 30, 10:51 am | [comment link]
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