The benefit of taking the long view

The correlatives of crime.

Some 20 years ago, I attended a lecture on crime at the Rockefeller Institute. The lecturer, a professor of public health at the Harvard Medical School, discussed the results of a study he had led in the Roxbury section of Boston, seeking to determine the correlatives of crime.

The most pronounced correlative his study found was not poverty. Nor was it education. Rather, he said, it was the lack of a male in the house.

Mayor Bill de Blasio intuitively understands the correlation between the lack of a father and the problems their children suffer as a result. To commemorate Father’s Day, the mayor sponsored a Fatherhood Initiative last Thursday at Gracie Mansion that honored 10 men who rose from rough childhoods to become supportive fathers.

The mayor spoke of his own rough childhood — of his father, who after having lost part of his leg in World War II, became an alcoholic and left his family. First Lady Chirlane McCray talked about her father, whom she said was a strong presence in her and her sister’s lives although he never knew his own father.

McCray also spoke about her and her husband’s reaction when they brought newborn daughter Chiara home from the hospital. She said, in words that every new parent can appreciate: “We looked at each other and said ‘What do we do now?’ “

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