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"Pursuing science can aid mental health which consists in the use of reason or the use of judgment."
-Fr. Chad Ripperger
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Research: Crime and Marital Status

Poverty occurs the least often in intact and stepparent families (10 percent). Importantly, although the poverty rate for African-American families is 30 percent, among African-American married families with children, it is only 3 percent.[1]

Crime is somewhat more difficult to assess, since the federal government does not track information on family structure in its statistics. The following data is from Wisconsin, the only state that studied juvenile incarceration rates by family background. Using this data, analysts at The Heritage Foundation found that:
  • Juvenile delinquency is lowest in the two-parent family (both intact and step- families); but
  • It is five times more prevalent among children with married but separated parents;
  • Among children with divorced parents, juvenile delinquency is 12 times higher; and
  • Among children of always single parents, it is 22 times higher.
There are clear indications from a review of academic studies that crime rates for African-Americans and white Americans are not very different if we control for the presence of marriage. Among blacks and whites who come from broken families, the rate is similar and very high; for blacks and whites from intact married families, the rate is similar but very low.

Clearly, family structure has a huge impact on juvenile crime, and it is the single biggest determining factor of whether a child slips into delinquent behavior.

[1]Bureau of the Census, Current Population Survey, 1998.
[2]Patrick F. Fagan, "The Real Root Causes of Violent Crime: The Breakdown of Marriage, Family and Community," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1026, March 17, 1995.