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According to the New Jersey Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, in 1960 the total number of births to teenagers was 11,636. In 2000, the number of births to teenagers was 8,219. At first glance, we would say we are doing something right, yet a little more scrutiny reveals a trend that is frightening.

In 1960 8.8% or 2,003 of those births were to unmarried teens, with 9,633 births to teens that were married, compared with 89.4% or 7,350 births to unmarried teens in 2000, and only 869 births -- a mere 10.6% to teens married. During this same time period, the divorce rate has gone from 115 per thousand marriages in 1960 to 508 per thousand marriages in 2000. A fatherless home today is three times more likely to be a home in poverty.

Education is not the answer -- according to a recent article in the Burlington County Times, New Jersey ranks 2nd in the nation, just behind New York, spending an average of over $ 10,000 per child per year, yet domestic violence offenses have gone from just under 51,000 in 1990 to just under 78,000 in 2000, and cases of child abuse cases totaled 39,276 in 1999.

In his book "Life Without Father", David Pepenoe, Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University, says:

"The decline of fatherhood is one of the most unexpected and extraordinary social trends of our time. Nearly 50% of American children go to sleep each evening without being able to say goodnight to their dads.

"There was a time in the past when fatherlessness was more common than it is today, but death was to blame - not divorce, desertion or out-of-wedlock births. Most of today’s fatherless children have fathers who are perfectly capable of shouldering the responsibilities of fatherhood. Who would have ever thought so many of them would choose to relinquish those responsibilities?"

"A surprising suggestion emerging from recent social-science research is that it is decidedly worse for a child to lose a father in the modern, voluntary way than through death. The children of divorced and never-married mothers are less successful by almost every measure than the children of widowed mothers. And there is reason to believe that having an unmarried father is even worse for a child than having a divorced father."

(From a sermon by Guy Glass, "Being a Visionary Father in a Short-Sighted World," 2/9/2009)

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