Census tells more than just stats
“I don’t have a daddy,” said the young boy or girl at the door. “And my mommy’s still sleeping.”
I would not feel comfortable writing about this experience if it had only happened to me once. Like every other enumerator with the 2006 Census, I swore an oath not to divulge any of the private information I collected. Yet, this incident happened to me more once. More than twice or even a dozen times. It happened in apartment buildings, in trailer parks and in areas considered locally to be “on the wrong side of the tracks”. It happened with children as young as four and with teenagers preparing to leave the nest. Yet, each of these children shared the same hint of sadness in his voice.
I still do not feel comfortable sharing my experience. On the one hand, I have been a pro-life activist since high school. Helping a suicidal classmate overcome post-abortion stress disorder ripped the facade of “choice” and “women’s liberation” from my pro-abortion views. So I feel relief that the mothers of these children chose life over abortion.
On the other hand, taking a pro-life stand on abortion has led to me taking a pro-life stand on other issues affecting the family. I have come to see that the strength of any society depends upon the strength of marriage and family life within its culture. Wherever marriage and the family is found, so goes the future of society.
So what do these fatherless children say about Canada? I look at what my own father taught me – character, morals, awareness of God and the supernatural – and I shiver. How will these children get along in life without a moral compass to guide them?
I have since done some research and it is not promising. Writing in Le Québécois Libre, David McCrae quotes the following statistics: “85 per cent of all children (who) exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (U.S. Centre for Disease Control); 90 per cent of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes (U.S. Bureau of the Census); 80 per cent of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes (Criminal Justice & Behaviour, Vol 14, p. 403-26, 1978); 70 per cent of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988); 85 per cent of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home (Texas Dept. of Corrections 1992).”
You “can pick a social ill at random,” McCrae continues, “and you will find that the correlation with fatherlessness is clear and direct. Depression. Suicide. Dropping out of school. Teenage pregnancy. Drug use. In sum, fatherless children are: five times more likely to commit suicide; 32 times more likely to run away; 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders; 14 times more likely to commit rape; nine times more likely to drop out of high school; 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances; nine times more likely to end up in a mental institution; 20 times more likely to end up in prison.”
As sad as it is, fatherless children are not the only negative consequence of the sexual revolution that I witnessed during the census. At the other end of the age spectrum, I frequently came across elderly people who suffered from loneliness.
“I didn’t mail in my census form or do it over the phone,” each of them told me, “because I wanted you to come over.” They would invite me for tea and cookies and start talking about their children and grandchildren if they had them. Otherwise, they discussed their nieces and nephews. Regardless of the particular family situation, the elderly had not seen their younger relatives in some time.
I was often the first human contact they had experienced in a week. I learned to recognize these folks almost immediately. They were the only ones who expressed disappointment at having received the short census form over the long one.
Sadly, this is the fate of an entire generation that chose contraception over fertility, abortion over adoption. This is the fate of a generation that could not find time in its younger years to birth and raise children. In their twilight years, they have been abandoned by the few offspring they permitted to populate the world.
In the end, my month-long experience as a census enumerator has confirmed what I feel about the culture of life. Whereas it often requires sacrifice in the short-term, the culture of life is ultimately about bringing joy to people’s lives.
Jeanne St. Pierre is a pseudonym used by an employee with the Census.