Christine Stuart photo
Sen. Gary LeBeau, D-East Hartford, left, Chris Powell, Managing Editor, right (Christine Stuart photo )

After 40 years in the newspaper business, Chris Powell, the managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, says he has seen everything “that is wrong” in society, “over and over again.”

When it comes to the lack of fathers participating in the lives of their children, Powell says he agrees with David Blankenhorn author of Fatherless America, who called it “the most urgent domestic challenge facing the United States.”

On Monday, Powell told the legislature’s Taskforce on Fatherhood that if he were an elected official, he would make sure there was “no subsidy whatsoever” for mothers who give birth outside of marriage. He said while that may seem Draconian, “it’s only because the problem is so urgent.”

Powell concluded Monday that many pregnancies are not an accident, and the state’s public policy of providing assistance to the child and mother essentially sends a message saying, “There, there, it’s all right.”

But “it’s not all right,” Powell said.

Sen. Gary LeBeau, D-East Hartford, said Powell’s views were not surprising to him because he has been reading Powell’s editorials for years. LeBeau said Powell’s editorial this past weekend, headlined A city boy’s chances may be better in prison, pinpoints the connection between fatherlessness and recent shooting violence in Hartford.

“But suppressing the mayhem would be only the first step toward addressing the problem,” Powell wrote. “The second would be for Connecticut to realize that nearly everything it has done for half a century in the name of alleviating poverty has been worse than mistaken—that it has massively created poverty, that it has created a city where more than two thirds of the children grow up without fathers, where only a third of high school students graduate, and where, indeed, more high school girls have children outside marriage than graduate.”

Back to the recent shooting in Hartford, which left Ezekiel Roberts, 21, dead, Powell wrote, “The young man murdered after the parade in Hartford leaves a 4-year-old son. If Connecticut won’t urgently rethink its urban catastrophe, the boy might as well be sent to prison now, for his chances there might be better than in the city itself.”

LeBeau said Blankenhorn concluded in his book that males not properly socialized become narcissistic and revert back “to the jungle where there’s a lack of culture.” He said he’s not sure he agrees with all of Blankenhorn or Powell’s conclusions, but he is certain “the culture is not friendly to fatherhood.”

Dr. David Carter, Chancellor of the Connecticut State University System, said Monday that he knows what it’s like to grow up without a father, since his father died when he was 5 years old. However, he said he had a number of male role models in his life.

“Children belong to all of us and we as men have an obligation to serve in a parenting role,” Carter said.

The seven-member Taskforce on Fatherhood will continue to meet until the next General Assembly convenes in January, at which time it will make public policy recommendations to its colleagues.