- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Baltimore and other urban jurisdictions that have low levels of “intact” families are at high risk for social unrest, as evidenced in the recent violence, says a new report.

Families in the which the mothers are married to and living with their children’s fathers are the strongest generator of educated youth, low delinquency, economic growth and sexual mores, according to a report released Wednesday by the Marriage & Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at the Family Research Council.

Titled “Violence in Baltimore: Social Science Resources for Journalists and Public Officials,” the report notes that in Baltimore, only 16 percent of teens between the ages of 15 and 17 have been raised in home in which the children live with their married, biological parents.

This makes Baltimore one of the five “least intact” of the largest 45 U.S. cities, including Cleveland, at 15 percent; and the District of Columbia, Detroit and Memphis, Tennessee — each at 17 percent. The MARRI report bases its analysis on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s “American Community Survey, 2008-2010.”

(According to MARRI’s “Third Annual Index of Belonging and Rejection,” the five most intact cities are San Jose, California, at 56 percent; Seattle, at 54 percent; San Francisco, at 53 percent; Fort Worth, Texas, at 48 percent; and Mesa, Arizona, at 47 percent.)

“The crisis is in marriage and family,” said Bishop E.W. Jackson, a senior researcher for church ministries for the Family Research Council and president of Staying True to America’s National Destiny (S.T.A.N.D.).

SEE ALSO: Loretta Lynch, attorney general, meets Freddie Gray’s family in Baltimore

The solutions lie in the direction of “love and fidelity and neighborliness to help those around,” said MARRI Director Patrick Fagan, who is also a senior researcher. “Government can do much good, but it cannot deliver love, fidelity or prayer. Leadership on these must come from other institutions.”

The MARRI report said data indicate that family intactness trumps race as a reason for societal ills: Regardless of whether families are white or black, crime rates are higher in chaotic, dysfunctional families, and lower in intact families.

“An impoverished boy from inner-city Baltimore will not escape criminal activity because Baltimore receives a stimulus bill from the President,” the report concludes.

“He will escape it if a caring teacher, compassionate pastor, or thoughtful adult mentors him so that he feels the support necessary to finish school, work at a job, and marry the mother of his children,” the report says.

• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

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