72 Percent of African-American Children Born to Unwed Mothers

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BVBlackspin's Kirsten West Savali takes a look at harrowing statistics about the rate of births to unwed mothers in the black community. According to government statistics, 72 percent of African-American children are born to unmarried mothers. Dr. Natalie Carroll, an obstetrician who has dedicated her 40-year career to helping black women, feels that this is unfortunate. "The girls don't think they have to get married. I tell them children deserve a mama and a daddy. They really do. A mama can't give it all. And neither can a daddy, not by themselves," Dr. Carroll says. "Part of the reason is because you can only give that which you have. A mother cannot give all that a man can give. A truly involved father figure offers more fullness to a child's life." 

This is not just an opinion. According to Children-our investment.org, homes without fathers ultimately affect children in numerous tragic ways:

    * 63 percent of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
    * 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
    * 85 percent of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes
    * 80 percent of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes
    * 71 percent of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes
    * 75 percent of all adolescent patients in chemical-abuse centers come from fatherless homes
    * 85 percent of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes


These statistics apply to African-American homes in disproportionate numbers. Compared with the 72 percent in our communities, 17 percent of Asians, 29 percent of whites, 53 percent of Hispanics and 66 percent of Native Americans were born to unwed mothers in 2008, the most recent year for which government figures are available. The rate for the overall U.S. population was 41 percent.

The article goes on to list various reasons these numbers are the way they are, including the residual effects of slavery, segregation and the penal system. If, every other day, there is an article about black women being "unmarriageable," then why do people expect black women to not have out-of-wedlock births? Are we saying that if you are not going to be a wife, then you should not have children? The divorce rate in the African-American community is at 32 percent, so those who are getting married aren't necessarily staying married. Those who start out with fathers in the home may not end up that way. The point about "involved fathers" is a good one. Is it better to have a father in the home who is not present or involved, just for the sake of having a man in the house? We all know great fathers who are involved and present, but we also know married women who function like single mothers when it comes to caring for children. Adding a man to the mix is not necessarily the solution. We think the problem is bigger than that and unwed mothers. What do you think? [Please note that a previous version of this post misstated the black divorce rate. We regret the error.]

Read more at BVBlackspin.