Press Releases

Youth Gun Violence, Mass Shootings Tied to Need for Family Court Reform


October 14, 2015


National Parents Organization believes that a powerful measure to reduce the number of mass shootings is going unexplored. As the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency has reported, “the most reliable indicator of violent crime in a community is the proportion of fatherless families.” Fatherless families, in turn, are caused in part by family courts that exclude fathers from post-divorce parenting. By instituting shared parenting after divorce or separation, fathers would be allowed to continue to show their sons the right way to grow into manhood.

“It is important to remind our nation that the solution to this problem starts in the home with parenting,” said Dr. Ned Holstein, MD, Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization said. “Unfortunately, however, our nation’s family courts prevent millions of divorced and separated fathers from having meaningful relationships with their children, which only leaves their children more vulnerable to this unfortunate behavior.”  

The result is devastating for our children. As President Obama pointed out, federal statistics show that children from single-parent families are five times more likely to commit crime and 20 times more likely to end up in prison.

“The repeat narrative is deeply troubling. An individual who grew up without the love and support of both parents turns to unfathomable, deadly gun violence. This must stop, and one piece of the solution is to to ensure children have both parents intimately involved in their lives after separation or divorce,” Dr. Holstein said. “With this in mind, I urge legislators in all states to join the family court reform movement to make shared parenting the new status quo in our society if both parents are fit and there has been no significant domestic violence.”

Within the past year, Utah and South Dakota, following in the footsteps of Arizona and Alaska, have implemented new child custody laws that encourage shared parenting after divorce or separation when parents are fit, and another nearly 20 states have considered similar proposals.

Not only do the statistics show the negative impact of single parenting, but a growing body of research shows shared parenting after divorce or separation is in children’s best interest. For instance,110 international child development experts signed a report by Dr. Richard Warshak titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report.” Based on a review of 30 years of child development research and published by the American Psychological Association in 2014, the study concluded, “… shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.”

“We know that in the absence of the old bulls, juvenile male elephants often go on violent rampages. We also know that our children desperately need both parents in their lives to thrive, and for this reason, lawmakers in every state must move forward with family court reform as soon as possible,” Dr. Holstein said. 


In addition to states such as Utah and South Dakota which have passed and implemented legislation supportive of shared parenting after divorce or separation, around 20 states have considered similar proposals within the past year, including:

  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wyoming


Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.

A regular contributor to local and national media, Dr. Holstein is Founder and Chair of the Board of National Parents Organization. Dr. Holstein was appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts to the Massachusetts Working Group on Child Centered Family Law, and he was previously appointed by a Massachusetts Chief Justice to a task force charged with reviewing and revising the state’s child support guidelines.

A graduate of Harvard College, Holstein also earned a Master’s degree in psychology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His medical degree is from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he serves on the faculty.


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Census Bureau and numerous researchers have reported alarming outcomes for the 35% of children who are raised by single parents. Yet, until now, this factor has been largely ignored in the conversation about child wellbeing.

Children raised by single parents account for:

•       63% of teen suicides;

•       70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions;

•       71% of high school drop-outs;

•       75% of children in chemical abuse centers;

•       85% of those in prison;

•       85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders; and

•       90% of homeless and runaway children.

Whether the problem is emotional disturbances of children, drug use, alcohol use, teen pregnancy, poor performance in school, trouble with the law or running with gangs, being raised by a single parent is a powerful risk factor. For many of these outcomes, single parenting is a stronger risk factor than race or poverty. Conversely, children on average do much better on all these measures if they have shared parenting. Children ardently desire shared parenting in most cases and are happier with it.

For parents, shared parenting significantly increases child support compliance, diminishes parental conflict and domestic violence and allows both parents to pursue their careers, social lives and other interests without the burden of singlehandedly raising a child.


National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization, seeks better lives for children through family law reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation. The organization is focused on promoting shared parenting and preserving a child’s strong bond with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. In 2014, National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws. Visit the National Parents Organization website at


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