Good News Tucson Magazine's Blog

The Premiere Christian Magazine for Southern Arizona

Is Tucson a Family Friendly City?

Whether it is the city father’s decisions or one of the many individual faces dotting the landscape of Tucson, the choices we make impact other people and the community at large. No matter how sincerely felt, all decisions in life are not equally beneficial. For example, consider the impact on children in families where two people decided to stay married versus the decision to be a single mom or the decision of two people to simply live together. “A child living alone with a single mother is 14 times more likely to suffer serious physical abuse than is a child living with both biological parents united in marriage. A child whose mother cohabits with a man who is not the child’s father is 33 times more likely to suffer serious physical child abuse than is a child living with both biological parents in an intact marriage.” (Source: Comparative Risk Ratios for Serious Abuse 1982-1988, in Robert Whelan, Broken Homes and Battered Children, Family Education Trust, United Kingdom, 1994. No similar data available for the United States).

Consider the fact that “80 percent of children suffering long-term poverty come from broken or never married families.” (The Positive Effects of Marriage: Book of Charts, Patrick Fagan, Robert Rector, Kirk Johnson, America Peterson, April 2002).  “Social science research data and government surveys increasingly show the decline in marriage since the 1960s has been accompanied by a rise in a number of serious social problems. With the rise in these problems come high program costs to deal with the effects of the breakdown of marriage.”

The quality of life for the entire community is impacted by the decisions of individuals and families. Many believe that their decisions are their own, that they don’t have consequences outside of their immediate circle of influence.  When those decisions erode the bonds of family, it is usually society that picks up the tab for the unintended consequences.

A child born and raised outside of marriage will spend an average of 51 percent of his childhood in poverty. By contrast, a child born and raised by both parents in an intact marriage will spend on average only seven percent of his childhood in poverty. A child raised by a never-married mother is more than seven times more likely to be poor than a child raised in an intact marriage. (Source: National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979–96).

The median annual income of parents who are in an intact first marriage is $41,000. By contrast, the annual median income of cohabiting couples with children is $33,000, and the annual median income of never-married mothers is only $15,000. (Source: Federal Reserve Board, Survey of Consumer Finance, 1998).

An adult raised in a single-mother home is twice as likely to serve jail time as an adult raised by always-married biological parents. Adults raised in stepfamilies are three times more likely to spend time in jail than are adults from intact married families. Adults raised with fathers and stepmothers are almost four times more likely to go to jail than are those raised by biological parents who were married to each other. (Source: Cynthia Harper and Sara McLanahan, “Father Absence and Youth Incarceration,” paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in San Francisco, August 1998).

Family stability should be a top priority of every community that wants a healthy sustainable future.  The personal suffering and hardship of those affected by unstable families, as well as the economic toll, is devastating to every community.  Churches, not the government, should take the lead in helping stabilize families and the citizens should encourage it.

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February 22, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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