Fatherlessness and Crime

August 25, 2022

By Jack Brewer

An absent father affects all aspects of a child’s life, from socio-cognitive and socio-emotional development to academic performance. In addition, fatherlessness has a negative influence on criminal or delinquent behavior.

Fatherlessness in the united States

  • Approximately 18,395,000 children in the United States live without a biological father, stepfather, or adoptive father present in the home.
  • 23% of children in the United States are raised by a single parent. This is more than three times the world average (7%) of children raised by a single parent, the highest rate of any country in the world.
  • Fatherless children are more likely to suffer from psychosocial development issues, live in poverty, drop out of school, engage in school violence, abuse substances, and enter the juvenile justice system.
  • Approximately 41% of children are born to unwed mothers. For women under age 30, the out-of-wedlock rate increases to 53%.
  • Single fathers are absent from approximately 80% of single-parent homes.



  • Fatherless children are three times more likely to be behind bars by the time they are 30 years old.
  • Fatherless children are more likely to suffer from alcohol and substance abuse, participate in school violence, and engage in impulsive and delinquent behavior.
  • From 1980 to 2010, the arrest data of fatherless boys ages 10 to 14 increased by 50%.
  • Most adolescents who enter the justice system have suffered from parental abandonment, substance abuse, or a dysfunctional household. In a study of 75 juvenile delinquents, 66% experienced fatherlessness, 20% had never lived with their father, and 25% had an alcoholic father.
  • Minimal parental involvement, unstable family dynamics, and the development of attachment issues—all common consequences of a fatherless home—contribute to an increased risk of juvenile delinquency.
  • Fatherless children are 20 times more likely to be incarcerated than children raised in dual-parent households.


  • 71% of teachers and 90% of law enforcement officials state that the lack of parental supervision at home is a major factor that contributes to violence in schools.
  • In a study of 56 school shootings, only 10 of the shooters (18%) were raised in a stable home with both biological parents. 82% grew up in either an unstable family environment or grew up without both biological parents together.

Works Cited