The social problem
The number of children born out of wedlock in the United States has been a problem over the years. These numbers have been grouped based on racial backgrounds since the 1940s. Unlike other races, the number of children born out of wedlock in the African American community has rapidly increased.
In the early century, the African American community was considered as one of the minority groups in the US (Kogan et al., 2016). They were faced with different challenges, including poverty and lack of jobs. Today, poverty is still one of the problems affecting the children born out of wedlock in the African American community.
The increase in the number of children born out of wedlock in the African American community dates back to 1965 when the National Vital Statistics System reported that out of wedlock birth rates among the African American community stood at 25%. Notably, this was a significant portion of all births in the African American community.
The CDC National Centre for Health Statistics reported that the birth rate of out of wedlock children among the African American community increased to 68% in 19991 (Meinck et al., 2015). In other words, the number the statistics showed that 68% of the black children were born out of marriages.
Following the increasing population in the United States, the statistics showed that the number of black children born of unmarried women increased to 72% in 2011. Notably, this was close to two-thirds of the total black children born in the USA. In 2015, the total number of black children born out of wedlock increased to 77%. Poverty is one of the reasons behind the increasing number of children born out of wedlock in the African American community.
These facts are supported by the fact that more than 50% of the newlyweds in 2015 showed that black Americans were married to non-black (Hunt et al., 2015). The historical perception that the white is richer than black Americans still plays an important role in marriages. As a result, many African Americans prefer marrying other races.
According to the Hispanic Institute report, African American mothers are more likely to become teenage mothers as compared to Hispanic and mothers from other races in the US (Figlio et al., 2014). Also, the researchers noted that many African American mothers preferred to remain single or even have marriage instabilities.
As a result, the high number of children from single families are among the African American community. Poverty is of the problems facing single families among the African American community. Most of the African American families led by mothers experience challenges of meeting their basic needs.
Studies reveal that a significant number of African American families follow the simple nuclear family structure. Such families consist of father, mother, and children. However, some families may not have children due to biological or any other medical-related problems. Generally, an ideal African American family consists of father, mother, and children.
The children born out of wedlock are likely to be traumatized by the situation they are living in. Ideally, they are likely to have unanswered questions about their biological father and the reason why they are living in a single-family.
Research shows that children who have been raised by single mothers are twice more likely to drop out of school and even record poorer performance (Ford and Moore, 2013). Children who are raised by both parents are more likely to be hardworking and encouraged. Children born out of wedlock in the United States of America are disadvantaged in numerous ways.
They are more likely to be traumatized by their life experience. Particularly, the lack of fatherly figures in a family plays an important role in children’s ability to work hard. The research further noted that children who are raised by single mothers are more likely to be teenage mothers and idlers. The school dropout rate is also higher among children from single families in the African American community.
A school dropout, idleness, and teenage pregnancy are the effects of poverty among children of single families in the African American community. Due to stigma and more rhetoric questions about their well-being, such children tend to be vulnerable. Poverty is one of the factors that increase the rate of vulnerability since the victims look for ways to survive (Evans and Kim, 2013).
In the events of looking for survival means, they may be engaged in prostitution hence leading to early motherhood. Notably, the vulnerability and poverty among the African American community explain the increase in the number of children of the African American community born out of wedlock.
In other words, children who are born out of wedlock also end up giving birth before marriage. Such circumstances increase the level of trauma among the victims. However, the trauma can be addressed accordingly to give hope to the victims. Trauma is not the end of life, and those who are affected should believe that the future is brighter for them.
The study by Chung et al. (2016) assets that 20% of all children born in the United States live in poverty. The study further noted that most of the children living in poverty are from the African American community. Particularly, these children are those born out of wedlock. Clinicians report that most of the children living in poverty are more likely to have health problems.
The health problems experienced by these children are related to malnutrition as well as the lack of crucial elements of their well-being. The fact that most of the children suffering from such diseases are from single families increases the degree of trauma. Apart from the family trauma, health issues trauma discourages the children about their entire life.
Borrowes (2017), on his study on post-traumatic slave syndrome literature on African American community healing, found that the historical background of African Americans plays an important role in the community’s daily activities.
Apart from the historical trauma relating to the slave trade, African Americans experience racism. The increasing rate of racism affects the lives of African Americans. To analyze the trauma experienced by African American children who are born out of wedlock, one needs to factor the increasing racism in the USA.
The African American community is the most affected race in regards to racism. Children who are born of unmarried mothers are more likely to suffer from doubled trauma (Borrowes, 2017). Generally, racism affects both children and adults from the African American community.
Harden et al. (2017) assets that poverty is the primary reason why children of single families in African Americans are experiencing toxic stress. According to their analysis, they found that most of the children suffer from a lack of caregiving.
The research noted further than because these children are exposed to numerous poverty-related risks, they are more likely to experience toxic stress. Studies show that toxic stress affects children’s brains as well as their emotional development.
Therefore, the children of single families in African American community are more likely to be traumatized. Such trauma affects the children’s growth and even future engagements due to since it interferes with their brain.
Alexander (2017), in his study of examining the legal transgenerational trauma and its effects on contemporary African Americans in caregiving, found that the historical information on the poverty among the African American community has affected caregiving.
Single parents have experienced challenges in caring for their children. In most cases, one parent takes almost every responsibility of a child even though the child belongs to both the father and mother. Ideally, mothers are the majority of single parents from the African American community.
The fathers to the children abandon them for unclear reasons. However, some African American mothers prefer to stay alone rather than getting married. Also, the research found that past traumatic experiences, such as that of racism, have affected the roles of pares concerning caregiving. Mothers fear that their children will face racism for being born in the said community.
Thomas (2019), in his study of the prevalence and potential buffers of intergenerational trauma in African American children, revealed that intergenerational trauma has a positive relationship with the contemporary trauma experienced by children of single families in the African American community. The study further found that intergenerational trauma plays a key role in the adverse childhood experiences that are evident in today’s African American community.
Using a sample of 109 single mothers, the study found that a high prevalence of intergenerational trauma in the sample. Notably, this showed that children of single families from the African American community are not only affected by poverty but also are disturbed by intergenerational trauma.
The prevalence of trauma and exotic stress among young children from the African American community explains why most of the children tend to follow the footsteps of their mothers. By footsteps, I mean that they are more likely to be teenage mothers and even drop out of school (Harden, 2017). In the contemporary world, numerous organizations have been established to address the needs of such vulnerable children in society.
For instance, the Children Rights Watch promotes equal rights and opportunities to all children regardless of their background or race. The impact of such organizations is likely to reduce the trauma experienced by children who are born out of wedlock in the African American community.
African American women also experience race-based stress (Simmons, 2017). In his study, Simmons found that many African American mothers have been diagnosed with race-based traumatic stress. Traumatic stress affects mothers’ roles in caregiving.
As a result, they may not raise the children accordingly. This explains why children are more likely to be traumatized. Lack of proper caregiving would lead to traumatic stress for the children as well. To mitigate this stress, single mothers need to undergo effective therapeutic counseling.
Economic theories explain the family structures among the African American community. These theories date back to 1850 during the slave trade. The trauma experienced by the African American community during the end of the slave trade left them with a lack of job opportunities. Studies reveal that slaves were commonly forced to work in the firms and industries (El-Sheikh et al., 2013).
During the end of the slave trade, white Americans did not want to employ African American men. As a result, there is a slight difference in payment between African American men and women. This has led to an increase in the level of poverty among the said community.
Economic theories also explain the reason why many African American women shoes to be single mothers. Even though there were no job opportunities for these women, they had to survive. Struggles in finding ways to survive explains why some of them engaged in prostitution hence ending up with children out of marriage.
Moreover, since there are limited job opportunities for African American males, women do not prefer getting married to these men. As a result, most of the African American women decide to be single mothers. The increasing difficulties in getting jobs has led to an increase in the level of poverty among the children of single mothers in the African American community.
One of the primary weaknesses of economic theories is that the 1880 census revealed that literate African American women were not likely to stay at home with their husbands, unlike illiterate women. However, economic theories are applicable in understanding the effects of poverty on children of single mothers in the African American Community. These theories consider historical trauma, specifically the slave trade, into the analysis of this case.
The decline of black marriages
The decline in the number of African American men who are likely to marry explains the increase in the number of children of single families. In 2004, only 32% of adult African American men were married. This shows that more than 50% of the adult African American men were not married. The decline in the number of African American men who were likely to marry dates back to the early centuries.
A statistical report released in 1970 showed that only 64% of the African American adult men were married. Moreover, the statistics data reported in 2004 revealed that 45% of the adult African American men had never married as compared to 25% of the white Americans (Calzada et al., 2013).
The theory of the decline of black marriages related to the economic theories such that one of the factors that deter African American men from marrying is the unfavorable economic condition. In African American culture, men are considered as breadwinners in families. Men need to provide for their wives and children as well. This trend is common where the man marries an illiterate woman, as depicted in the census report of 1880 (Evans and Kim, 2013).
Men who do not have jobs may not consider marrying due to lack of capabilities to provide for the family. Due to the fewer job opportunities for African American men, they constitute the largest number of unemployed individuals in the USA. This explains the increasing rate of poverty in the African American community, especially to the children born out of wedlock.
Black male incarceration and mortality
Over the years, the number of African American male inmates has rapidly increased. Studies reveal that numerous cases of criminal activities are linked to African American male suspects. The increasing number of black male incarceration and mortality explains the increase in the number of children born out of wedlock. Studies show that black male represents 50% of the number of those who are incarcerated in various prisons (Anakwenze and Zuberi, 2013).
Researchers identified that black male Americans are more likely to be arrested and jailed as at least once in their lifetime as compared to white Americans. The increase in the number of black males who are incarcerated related to limited job opportunities. Lack of job opportunities and the increase in poverty level explain why more black male Americans are likely to engage in criminal activities.
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