In 1954, Nobel Prize-winning author William Golding published the book “Lord of the Flies.” The novel and subsequent movie made from the book deals with a group of British boys who find themselves stranded on an uninhabited island with no adults. The boys try to govern themselves—with disastrous results—as they struggle with emotions, morality, cruelty, and other issues.
As I read about the increased violence in our inner cities, as well as the attacks on innocent people by alienated, unsupervised young men, I can’t help but harken back to Golding’s sadly prophetic novel.
The answer is that the parents, and particularly the fathers, are nowhere to be found, so these teens are playing out the scenario of “Lord of the Flies” daily in cities across the United States.
Take Pennsylvania, for example. Torres reported that data from the state’s Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission show that in 2021, more than 80 percent of juvenile court dispositions involved a young person coming from a broken home, with nearly 48 percent being raised by a single parent and only 15.5 percent coming from intact, two-parent families.
These young people, like the boys in “Lord of the Flies,” find themselves stranded with no adults to help guide them and thus have no idea of how to govern their emotions—whether it be anger, sexual desire, or basic regard for human life.
Yet instead of asking the question, “Where are the parents?” many government officials are saying a different phrase: “Show me the money.” That’s the wrong thing to say, because no amount of money can heal the broken soul of a young person growing up without a father or, in some cases, no parents at all.
“The likelihood of teen pregnancy, drug abuse, dropping out of school, and many other social problems grew dramatically when fathers were absent,” Riley said.
Meanwhile, the government continues to throw money at the problem, often subsidizing single-parent families while ignoring the root of the problem.
If we’re to stop teenagers—and particularly young men—from reenacting the “Lord of the Flies” in our cities and towns, we need to reemphasize that children need to be raised in two-parent intact families, with both a mother and a father. That’s what government should be encouraging, instead of continuing to bandage open wounds with dollar bills.
Otherwise, we‘ll continue to hear the question, “Where are the parents?” when another tragic attack or shooting takes place. It’s my hope that someday we’ll no longer have to ask that question and that it has found its answer: a loving two-parent home regardless of socioeconomic status, which is once again the norm and not the exception.