We Don’t Have A School Shooting Problem; We Have A Fatherlessness Problem

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/05/10/we-dont-have-a-school-shooting-problem-we-have-a-fatherlessness-problem/

In the recent wake of several more school shootings our nation continues its mourning and search for answers.  We have all been asking:  Why? Why does this continue to happen? What can we do to stop it?

I personally don’t believe that there is one black-and-white answer. I do, however, believe that one of the biggest and most important reasons we continue to see this breed of unprovoked and unnecessary violence is largely being overlooked:  We have a masculine initiation crisis caused by a lack of strong and present fathers in this country.

Don’t believe it?  Well, according to a story by Mark Meckler in Real Clear Politics, 26 out of the last 27 most deadly mass shootings were done by boys without fathers.  This isn’t a coincidence.  It’s more like a smoking gun.

There is not one statistic as commonly shared and alarming when you break it down and look at the facts. Yet this data and the heartbreaking root cause continue to get buried under the approved talking points. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, 24 million American children grow up without a father at home. If you are like some of the very confused people I have met over the years and think “this isn’t really that big of a deal” then please allow me to explain.

Children without fathers are four times more likely to live in poverty. They are twice as likely to suffer from obesity and drop out of high school. They are also more likely to have behavioral problems, to be abused, to use drugs and alcohol, commit crime, and go to prison. Girls without fathers are seven times more likely to become pregnant without being married. These stats are heartbreaking and staggering.  They are also proof of how important a strong and just father is to the development of children. As a father myself, it honestly makes me a little ashamed to think of every time I have neglected or taken for granted this priceless role in the lives of my children.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” According to New York Times bestselling author John Eldredge, who has studied the subject, masculinity can only be bestowed by masculinity – meaning, by another man.  Eldredge also concludes that the number-one question every boy and young man needs answered is the following:  “Do I have what it takes?” Every man wonders if he has what it takes to be strong and mighty, to be counted on, to save the day and to rescue the beauty — to name a few.

Having spent nine years in arguably the most masculine profession on earth, the U.S. Navy SEAL teams, I agree with Eldridge’s assessment of the origin of masculinity – and I will admit that like all men I also needed to know if I had what it takes.

I love my mother very much, and so much of who I am today is because of her discipline, sacrifice, and strength; but she could never answer this question for me or initiate me into masculinity. My father taught me as a boy that my strength and masculinity were not toxic.  He made sure that I understood their importance and value. He taught me that I would need to use them throughout my lifetime to protect and serve myself and others. He also taught me that there was absolutely an inherent responsibility that comes with the use of force and application of violence.

My understanding of this framework grew exponentially in the SEAL teams. We were regularly thrown into environments and situations to test whether we had the ability to dial up and down the intensity level from killer instinct all the way back down to a casual conversation within seconds.

I believe that much of the sickening dysfunction that we see today comes from a lack of this knowledge, exposure, and initiation into authentic masculinity. When the heart of a young man is neglected, uninitiated, and wounded, he has a much higher likelihood to lash out violently in an attempt to show the world that he is powerful and that he has what it takes.

The thing I find the most alarming about the masculine initiation crisis is that it remains hidden from so many. We rarely, if ever, hear about it from television “experts.” We mostly hear about other things, such as enacting more gun control, tightening school safety, overmedicating our children, or arming teachers. Yet the fact that the overwhelming majority of these homicidal young men grew up without fathers is routinely ignored.

I find that stunning. But maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I should be so used to this war on the family and traditional, conservative values that I should know better. After all, it only takes a couple years and a bunch of signatures to pass a piece of legislation banning firearms or arming qualified teachers. It takes decades and a whole lot of hard work and sacrifice to properly raise a young man.

Collective admission that there is a masculine initiation crisis and that fatherlessness is a major factor in this violent epidemic would mean that we would have to acknowledge the importance of traditional gender roles again and refocus on the preservation of the family. This also means that I and other men need to start acting like men again – including to quit passing the buck by leaving the sole responsibility of child development on the backs of women. It also means that we need to use our strength to protect, nurture, and lead our families, along with teaching our sons the responsibilities that come along with manhood.

If we don’t change our behavior we will continue to see more children grow up without fathers and worse. If we don’t change the narrative, then not enough people will even see the problem, let alone try to address it.

Instead, we will see more and more uninitiated, wounded boys trying to show us all that they have what it takes.


Eli Crane, a retired U.S. Navy SEAL, is the co-founder of Bottle Breacher, a company headquartered in Tuscon, Arizona that recycles authentic decommissioned 50-caliber bullets into household products and gifts. His company has been featured on CNBC’s Shark Tank.