david_lykken's picture
Behavioral Geneticist and Emeritus Professor, University of Minnesota
Laws requiring parental licensure

I believe that, during my grandchildren's lifetimes, the U.S. Supreme Court will find a way to approve laws requiring parental licensure.

Traditional societies in which children are socialized collectively, the method to which our species is evolutionarily adapted, have very little crime. In the modern U.S., the proportion of fatherless children, living with unmarried mothers, currently some 10 million in all, has increased more than 400% since 1960 while the violent crime rate rose 500% by 1994, before dipping slightly due to a delayed but equal increase in the number of prison inmates (from 240,000 to 1.4 million.) In 1990, across the 50 States, the correlation between the violent crime rate and the proportion of illegitimate births was 0.70.

About 70% of incarcerated delinquents, of teen-age pregnancies, of adolescent runaways, involve (I think result from) fatherless rearing. Because these frightening curves continue to accelerate, I believe we must eventually confront the need for parental licensure — you can't keep that newborn unless you are 21, married and self-supporting — not just for society's safety but so those babies will have a chance for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.