Fewer Than Half of American Children Growing Up In Intact Families, Survey Finds

December 15, 2010 - 10:57 AM

(CNSNews.com) - Only 45 percent of American children have spent their childhood in an intact family, according to a survey produced by a conservative advocacy group.

The "Index of Belonging and Rejection," produced by Dr. Pat Fagan of the Family Research Council's Marriage and Religion Research Institute, defines an intact family as a biological mother and father who remain legally married to one another from the time of their child's birth.

"American society is dysfunctional, characterized by a faulty understanding of the male-female relationship," Fagan said in a news release. "Our culture needs a compass correction, learning again how to belong to each other when we have begotten children together."

Fagan said providing children with intact families holds "immeasurable benefits" for children, adults and society in general. The benefits include financial, educational, legislative, legal and judicial gains, Fagan added.

The survey's findings:

-- 62 percent of Asian-American teenagers live with both married parents.

-- 54 percent of white youth live with both parents.

-- 41 percent of teenagers from multiracial family backgrounds live in intact families.

-- 40 percent of Hispanic teenagers nationwide live with both parents.

-- 24 percent of American Indian and Alaskan Native adolescents -- fewer than one in four -- have lived with both married parents throughout childhood.

-- 17 percent of African-American youth -- fewer than one in five -- live with both married parents.

The Index also varies across regional and socioeconomic lines:

-- 41 percent of adolescents living in the South grow up belonging to an intact family.

-- Large urban counties whose populations are less educated, less affluent, and contain high concentrations of minority groups tend to have lower proportions of two-parent families.

Fagan says the “culture of rejection” in American homes affects individuals and the nation as a whole.

"Children in broken homes are more likely to be poor or welfare-dependent. They enjoy less academic achievement and less social development, have more accidents and injuries, and have worse mental health and more behavioral problems. These children also have worse relationships with their parents and are more likely to reject their own spouses later.

"The culture of rejection burdens communities with higher levels of poverty, unemployment, welfare dependency, domestic abuse, child neglect, delinquency, crime and crime victimization, drug abuse, academic failure and school dropout, and unmarried teen pregnancy and childbearing. The United States experiences increased costs in education, healthcare, mental health and the administration of justice.”

Fagan said the nation’s future depends on the strength of its families. “Such strength is waning, which should give every American pause for concern and motivation for action," Fagan concluded.

The first annual 'Index of Family Belonging and Rejection' is based on analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey.