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When Will We Have the Guts to Link Fatherlessness to School Shootings?

Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz poses for a mugshot photo after being arrested February 14, 2017 in Parkland, Florida

Now that the gun control advocates have had their fifteen minutes of fame, let’s start focusing on the real issues impacting the rise in school shootings since that infamous day in Columbine in 1999. Issue number one that no one in the mainstream media or government wants to acknowledge: fatherlessness. Specifically, the impact of fatherlessness on the boys who grew up to become school shooters.

Dr. Warren Farrell, author of the new book The Boy Crisis, explains:

Minimal or no father involvement, whether due to divorce, death, or imprisonment, is common to Adam Lanza, Elliott Rodgers, Dylan Roof  and Stephen Paddock.

In the case of 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, he was adopted at birth. His adoptive dad died when Nikolas was much younger, and doubtless the challenges of this fatherlessness was compounded by the death of his adoptive mom three and a half months ago.

The rate of mass shootings has tripled since 2011. We blame guns, violence in the media, violence in video games, and poor family values. Each is a plausible player. But our daughters live in the same homes, with the same access to the same guns, video games, and media, and are raised with the same family values. Our daughters are not killing. Our sons are.

But boys with significant father involvement are not doing these shootings. Without dads as role models, boys’ testosterone is not well channeled. The boy experiences a sense of purposelessness, a lack of boundary enforcement, rudderlessness, and often withdraws into video games and video porn. At worst, when boys’ testosterone is not well-channeled by an involved dad, boys become among the world’s most destructive forces. When boys’ testosterone is well channeled by an involved dad, boys become among the world’s most constructive forces.

As Terry Brennan, co-founder of Leading Women for Shared Parenting, notes:

72 percent of adolescent murderers grew up without fathers; the same for 60 percent of all rapists.

70 percent of juveniles in state institutions grew up in single- or no-parent situations

The number of single-parent households is a good predictor of violent crime in a community, while poverty rate is not.

Yet, despite the growing number of experts, pundits and commentators drawing attention to the impact of fatherlessness on school and community safety, the post-attack discussion inevitably reverts back to gun control. Instead of spending so much as fifteen minutes on fatherlessness we are forced to endure the same salacious headlines, the same provocative tweets, the same tired old memes about the evils of guns as if somehow a cold piece of metal convinced yet another boy to become a mass-murderer. We ignore the lack of adequate mental health services, the failure of law enforcement to effectively intercede, and the sickening impact fatherlessness has on each one of these tragic cases. Why? Because it is easier to ban a hunk of metal than it is to right systemic cultural wrongs.

Comedian Michael Ian Black took a lot of flak for blaming the rise in school shootings on the idea that “boys are broken.” Yet, he was correct in stating that,

The last 50 years redefined womanhood: women were taught they can be anything. No commensurate movement for men who are still generally locked into the same rigid, outdated model of masculinity and it’s killing us. If you want to hurt a man, the first thing you do is attack his masculinity.

What is the primary way to attack a boy’s masculinity? Strip him of his primary male role model: his father. Over the past 50 years, we have taught women to embrace single motherhood and to cut fathers out of their children’s lives through divorce. Now, thanks to the gun control echo-chamber, it will probably take another 50 years to right the wrongs we've done to our fathers and our boys.