State Auditor report links fatherlessness to costly issues in Mississippi

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 7:34 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - State Auditor Shad White says the costs of homes with an absent father go beyond a financial strain on the mom. His new report does the math on the costs to taxpayers.

“As State Auditor, I think that I’ve got a responsibility to show the taxpayers the cost for the taxpayers of any of the big societal challenges that we face here in the state,” said Shad White.

The report calls attention to the domino effect of fatherless homes, saying that it often leads to higher incarceration rates, high school dropouts, and teen pregnancies.

“The studies will show you that having two parents in the home is a very, very powerful thing for kids,” explained White. “I mean, one, it means another income, sometimes two, it means another set of hands added discipline for the children, and you see the consequences when the fathers are not engaged.”

One solution from the report is for policymakers to expand programs like JROTC.

“It’s interrupting this cycle of fatherlessness,” White described.

It’s a solution that recognizes the fact that not every circumstance will have the option of the father being back in the picture.

“The idea is really, really simple,” said Whtie. “We take kids who are in the public school system, and we pair them with a retired military service member, and those service members only almost become a surrogate father for some of these kids.”

However, State Representative Zakiya Summers has some questions.

“I think the way that this conversation is being framed through this report is looking at it from the wrong angle,” noted Summers. “You know, instead of us looking at the things that come out of fatherlessness, we should be looking at the things that actually contribute to fatherlessness in the first place. You know, we’re living in a post-Roe world.”

Summers says that with Roe overturned, we could very well see more homes without fathers.

“We need to address the real issues, and I don’t think stigmatizing fathers is the way to do it,” added Summers.

“I hear so many people say...well, you can’t talk about this, because this is a politically toxic issue that, that you can’t say to somebody that the father is necessary in the home,” noted White. “No, we absolutely can. If we don’t talk about it, we’re excusing the behavior of those fathers who failed to show up for their kids, and we’re dooming the next generation to repeat the same sorts of challenges.

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