It's enough to make you respect the social sciences. A report by the Council on Families in America, entitled "Marriage in America," declares that "the divorce revolution has failed" and calls for strong medicine: "There is no realistic alternative to the one we propose. We must, as a nation, reassess and change our basic cultural values."

This diverse and distinguished group of scholars and analysts has surveyed the hundreds of studies and declared what common sense has been shouting for some time: divorce and family breakdown are killing our culture.

While we may hail these conclusions as a victory in the culture wars, the shout will die in our throats when we ponder the realities the report points to: "We as a society are simply failing to teach the next generation about the meaning, purposes, and responsibilities of marriage. If this trend continues, it will constitute nothing less than cultural suicide."


The case is unfortunately easy to make: Despite America becoming much richer, healthier, more educated, and suffused with better psychological insights, over the last 30 years "child well-being" has gotten "much worse." Juvenile crime has increased sixfold. Teen suicide has tripled. Drug abuse, eating disorders, and depression among youth have soared while sat scores have dropped 80 points. Reports of neglect and abuse have quintupled since 1976.

The very institution of marriage is imperiled. Fewer people are getting married, even when there is a pregnancy. The report notes, "Nearly one third of all American children are now born to unmarried parents." More couples are getting divorced. The chances that a marriage today will break up are "a staggering 60 percent." Even for those who stay married, ...

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