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Everyone is worried about inequality. We all seem to have a theory about the rich getting richer , while the gap between the haves and have-nots is becoming more entrenched.

Two things happened in the 1970's. Family income began to stagnate and family structure began to change radically. Divorce rates soared and marriage rates began to fall. More women began to have children outside of marriage, and the percentage of female-headed families began to climb. In Canada about 25% of babies are now born out of wedlock. 19% of children live in single-parent families, the vast majority of whom are single mothers. Another 16 % live with parents who are common law according to Statistics Canada.

The rise in female-headed house-holds has created the stagnation in family incomes.

Divorce, the decline of marriage has been more evident among lower-middle-class and poor families then among the rich. Lone-parent families in Canada are four more times more likely to be poor then two parent families. Single mothers have far less in the way of financial resources especially if they have less education and fewer skills.
Upper-middle class two parent families can invest far more time and resources in their children than lower-middle-class single mothers can, no matter how good their intentions. Children from single parent families generally do worse on school achievement.

The recent statistics show that we had 375,000 people in Ontario the vast majority of whom are mothers along with 125,000 of their children having to use their local food banks to help tide them over to the end of the month. To put the numbers into perspective the City of Londonís population numbers equates to the above reality.

The kids who are at most risk are boys. When I counselled at Saunderís Secondary School for the London/Thames Valley School Board I completed a study of those who dropped out of school. For the most part male students quit school three times more often then their female classmates. The boys showed their displeasure with their feet quitting school in grade eleven. For the most part they where 16 years of age enrolled in the College Level programs.

Multiple attempts to return to school in the next semester usually did not improve attendance and they dropped out of school having to find dead-end minimum wages jobs. The vast majority of the students who quit school came from single-parent mostly female led homes where their was not a positive male role model to help or emulate. In general the boys are doing much worse then the girls.

The elementary/secondary school teaching staffs are female with very few male teachers for the boys to provide positive role models. Many of my young male clients have told me that they never had a male teacher in elementary school. Check out the staffing of your secondary school that your children attend and you will discover that male teachers make up a declining number of those who are able and willing to teach.

The boys who quit school are more antisocial and aggressive, more disruptive, more likely to get into trouble with the law and become less employable. They are far less likely to get married but quite likely to have children.

It is sad but the class divide is likely to be self-perpetuating.

I am interested in your opinion. Please drop me an e mail lenlesser@hotmail.com www.career-education.ca.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com