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The United States is becoming an increasingly fatherless society A generation ago an American child could reasonably expect to grow up with his or her father Today an American child can reasonably expect not to Fatherlessness is now approaching a rough parity with fatherhood as a defining feature of American childhood This astonishing fact is reflected in many statistics but here are the two most important Tonight about 40 percent of American children will go to sleep in homes in which their fathers do not live Before they reach the age of eighteen more than half of our nations children are likely to spend at least a significant portion of their childhood living apart from their fathers Never before in this country have so many children been voluntarily abandoned by their fathers Never before have so many children grown up without knowing what it means to have a fatherFatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation It is the leading cause of declining child well-being in our society It is also the engine driving our most urgent social problems from crime to adolescent pregnancy to child sexual abuse to domestic violence against women Yet despite its scale and social consequences fatherlessness is a problem that is frequently ignored or denied Especially within our elite discourse it remains largely a problem with no name If this trend continues fatherlessness is likely to change the shape of our society Consider this prediction After the year 2000 as people born after 1970 emerge as a large proportion of our working-age adult population the United States will be divided into two groups separate and unequal The two groups will work in the same economy speak a common language and remember the same national history But they will live fundamentally divergent lives One group will receive basic benefits - psychological social economic educational and moral - that are denied to the other group The primary fault line dividing
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