Mobile Toggle
btn-shop-fathersourcehomepage-btnbrn-free-resources
rsstwfbenews

The Father Factor:
Fatherhood Matters

subpage-image

The Father Factor in the Aurora Shooting

In four of the most recent high-profile mass shootings (the D.C. Sniper, Chardon High School, the Tucson shooting, and the Norway terrorist), we wrote about how the killers had damaged or nonexistent relationships with their fathers and how that factor contributed significantly to their horrific actions.

Chardon High Shooting: Symptoms of the Father Factor

Image by Aaron Josefczyk, Reuters.

The tragedy of the Virginia Tech shooting: five children left fatherless

Heartache and unanswered questions abound after yesterday's on-campus shootings at Virginia Tech. A close friend of mine was directly affected by the shooting that killed 33 in 2007; yesterday's incidents awoke painful memories of that tragedy for all connected to the Virginia Tech community. The campus activated security measures implemented after the 2007 massacre and went into lock-down for several hours after a police officer was shot and killed by a gunman, who later took his own life.

Little is known about the shooter at this time, except that he was not a student of Virginia Tech. However, we do know several things about the police officer who was killed. Most notably, he was a dad and husband. Deriek Crouse was a father and stepfather to five children.

Law enforcement officials will eventually find answers to many of the questions surrounding yesterday's shooting. Why would someone violently interrupt a routine traffic stop that he was not involved in? What connection, if any, did the gunman have to the police officer? As the investigations continue, activity on Virginia Tech's campus will quickly resume it's normal pace as students get ready to take finals and go home for the holidays.

Life, however, will never return to normal for Deriek Crouse's wife and children, and while answers may provide some sense of closure for his family, the pain will never go away. Our hearts go out to the Crouse family, especially the five children who woke up today without their dad. The death of anyone is always a tragedy; that tragedy is magnified many times when it leaves fatherless children.

Flash Mobs and Absent Dads

Many of you have probably heard about the recent spate of crimes that were driven by "flash mobs" organized via social media and mobile devices.



In case you don't know, a flash mob is "a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, or artistic expression."



Interesting that this definition (from Wikipedia) does not (yet) include "for the purpose of committing a crime."



But that, sadly, is just what is happening. In fact, a very high profile case just happened in the very town in which NFI is headquartered, Germantown, MD. CNN.com had front page coverage of the incident here: http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/08/18/flashmobs.police/index.html?hpt=hp_c1



The county where NFI sits, Montgomery County, is, on the whole, a thriving community with great schools and safe neighborhoods. But a gang problem is starting to emerge in communities where rates of father absence are higher. These flash mobs are a symptom of that same trend.



Now, you are going to get all kinds of commentary about these crimes, but, as you can suspect, we here at NFI have a very simple question: where are the dads?



We already know that a disproportionate number of gang members and prisoners are from father-absent homes. This is no different; the youth causing this mayhem lack fatherly guidance at home. Sure there are other factors, but if there were involved, responsible, and committed fathers in these homes, these reckless teens would not be engaging in such senseless acts. In fact, most of the dads I have spoken to would not even let such troubled youth have a private cell phone, let alone use one to organize a crime.



So, is there a "father factor" in flash mob violence? You bet there is.

The Father Factor in the Tucson Shooting

"The family was contemptuous. It wasn't the son. It was the father."

Those are the words of a female neighbor of alleged Tucson shooter, Jared Loughner. As details about the Loughner’s family begin to emerge, a not unexpected picture is coming into focus. Apparently, Loughner’s father, Randy, was far from a positive force in the life of his son and family.

Another individual who used to spend a lot of time with the Loughners said the family's home was "cold, dark and unpleasant" and that he always felt "unwelcomed."

Most importantly, this same former friend said he never observed “a particularly loving relationship between the Loughners.” Finally, and sadly, Loughner once told this friend that he loved his dog more than his parents. More details are here.

This is not entirely different than what we learned about the D.C. sniper after his shooting rampage in the fall of 2002. As details of Lee Malvo’s family life emerged, it became clear that he did not have a close relationship with his father – he was, in fact, desperately yearning for a close relationship with his father and tragically chose John Muhammad to replace him.

Decades of research show that boys who have fractured or nonexistent relationships with their fathers are more likely to act out violently than sons who are close to their fathers. Unfortunately, our nation’s prisons are filled with men who had poor relationships with their dads.

Clearly, there were a number of factors that led to Jared Loughner’s heinous act, but to ignore the “father factor” is to ignore an important root. We will continue to monitor this situation as more details of his family life emerge. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

Fatherhood Matters Blog Sign Up

Topics