Fatherlessness: Black fatherlessness in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG –Black fatherlessness worse in St. Pete than the rest of Florida and America

City leaders awaken to the reality that fatherlessness is a huge factor in school failure and violence.

By now, thousands of voices have vented outrage over the “Failure Factories” article published by the Tampa Bay Times in August 2015, blasting to the world that South St. Peters-burg is “the most concentrated site of academic failure in all of Florida.”

At five area elementary schools, nine in 10 children are failing reading, math or both. And unlike prior high-profile embarrassments over the achievement gap, this time, reporters pointed with precision to the school district’s role in the tragic results.

But alongside the overdue “day of reckoning” for district leaders, there is an urgent reality that city leaders are only beginning to factor into solutions:

Fatherlessness has reached pandemic proportions in St. Petersburg’s African American community. In 2013, the rate of black babies born to single mothers and later raised by single moms was higher than almost anywhere else in Florida.

single mom, fatherless

St. Petersburg had the highest illegitimate birth rate for black children among Florida’s 10 largest cities (86 percent versus 62 percent across Florida).

And the situation is worse in the area surrounding the five failing schools (the Midtown and Childs Park communities).

There, over the past five years of Census data, 88 percent of all African American babies were born to unwed moms (effectively nine out of 10)! In 2014, the illegitimate birth rate reached 100 percent in six of nine of the area’s census tracts.

Research shows an alarming uptick in the problem in recent years. From 2008 to 2014, the number of African American babies born to unwed mothers in St. Petersburg grew by 62 percent.

families led  by single women, fatherless

This was in sharp contrast to four percent growth across the rest of Florida and a three percent decline nationwide in illegitimate births among African Americans.

And it happened over the precise same time frame when student performance in Southside schools dropped precipitously.

The community’s elementary schools fell from an average “B” grade in 2009 to an overall “D+” in 2014.

As it stands, a recent analysis of Florida’s 10 largest cities shows St. Petersburg with the highest share of black babies born to unwed mothers (86 percent), as well as the highest share of black children being raised by single moms (67 percent).

A drill-down into the data confirms that the heart of the problem lay in Midtown and Childs Park (which comprise the new South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area, “CRA”).

In a pattern that mirrors the concentrations of youth violence and school failure, the tiny 7.4 square mile area makes up only 12 percent of the city’s landmass, but is home to over half – 52 percent – of all African American children in St. Petersburg who live with single mothers.

headship, fatherlessFor perspective sake, over 72 percent of African American children in the CRA live in families led by unmarried women compared to only 21 percent for white children throughout St. Petersburg.

How far-reaching is black fatherlessness in St. Petersburg?

In 2010, there were close to 11,000 black children in the city living in households led by single women (10,946 to be precise, according to the Census).

An overwhelming majority of African American families in poverty are headed by single women (84 percent).

2 Replies to “Fatherlessness: Black fatherlessness in St. Petersburg”

  1. Ray Pursifull says:

    This is what happens when you loose a generation of people…..it will be the down fall of the city of St. Petersburg….so heartbreaking to see a once great place to live turn into a slum….

  2. Harroll says:

    Excellent Tonio! You described me.
    We need to find a way to make sure the many black children being born (to unwed mothers or not) are prepared to make proper decisions in the future. The good I see in this is the number of blacks being born. Maybe we will eventually cease to be a minority–assuming that has not already happened. I suspect this story will lead to more abortion clinics in the CRA.

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