Crime and the Absence of Fathers: A Closer Look

A Group of Boys Playing Soccer

In recent years, a trend in criminal activities has surfaced, pointing to a correlation between criminal behavior and homes with absent fathers. While many factors contribute to crime, research suggests that children who grow up without a father figure might be at a higher risk of engaging in criminal behavior.

The Statistics:

According to a 2019 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children living in female-headed homes with no spouse present had a poverty rate of 47.6%, over four times the rate in married-couple families. Poverty, in turn, has been consistently linked to higher rates of crime.

The U.S. Census Bureau stated in 2020 that about one in four children under the age of 18 are being raised without a father. This doesn’t necessarily mean the child has no contact with their father, but they don’t live with him.

A study published by the U.S. Department of Justice, reveals that children from fatherless homes account for:

  • 63% of youth suicides.
  • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders.
  • 71% of all high school dropouts.
  • 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions.

The Reasons Behind The Data:

The correlation between fatherless homes and crime isn’t necessarily straightforward. While many children from these homes don’t commit crimes, the emotional, financial, and social challenges faced by these children can make them more susceptible.

  1. Emotional and Psychological Factors: The absence of a father can lead to feelings of abandonment, low self-esteem, and identity issues. These can manifest as anger and lead to aggressive behaviors.
  2. Economic Strain: Single-mother homes are statistically more likely to live below the poverty line. Economic hardship is a well-documented stressor that can lead to criminal activity.
  3. Lack of Discipline and Structure: Without a father in the home, discipline and setting boundaries might be more challenging. It might also be harder to instill values that deter from criminal behavior.
  4. Peer Influence: Children from fatherless homes might seek affirmation and belonging from peers, which can sometimes mean being easily influenced by the wrong crowd.


While the absence of a father can contribute to the likelihood of a child committing a crime, it’s important to note that many children from these homes lead successful, law-abiding lives. Support systems like extended families, mentorship programs, and community resources can play a significant role in providing the guidance and structure that might be missing.

Crime is a complex issue with multifaceted roots. However, understanding the link between fatherless homes and crime can be the first step toward implementing support systems that prevent potential criminal behaviors.


Information on Poverty and Income Statistics

Number of Children Living Only With Their Mothers Has Doubled in Past 50 Years. U.S. Census Bureau.

Congressional Record Volume 159, Number 85 (Friday, June 14, 2013)

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