Reducing Domestic Violence: How the Healthy Marriage Initiative Can Help.

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Pardue, Melissa G.
Rector, Robert.
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Heritage Foundation (Washington, D.C.).
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This report explains how President Bush's proposed Healthy Marriage Initiative would reduce domestic violence. The initiative would provide $300 million in federal and State Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) money to State-level programs that promote marriage and marriage-skills training, particularly among low-income and fragile families. The report begins by discussing the primary target populations and goals of the program, and then answers erroneous criticisms of the initiative. It stresses that participation in the program is voluntary and will not cause women to stay in abusive relationships. Data from the Fragile Families Survey is shared on the characteristics of low-income parents and indicates: the median age for women having children out of wedlock is 22; roughly half of unmarried mothers were cohabiting with the child's father at the time of the baby's birth and nearly 75% were romantically involved with the father at the time of the child's birth; very few unmarried fathers had drug or alcohol problems and about 98% had been employed during the prior year; 73% of mothers and 88% of fathers believed that they had at least a 50-50 chance of marrying each other in the future; and among all the unmarried couples in the Fragile Families Survey, the domestic violence rate was 4%. The benefits of marriage as a protective institution that decreases the risk of domestic abuse and violent crime are explained, and research results on the success of marriage strengthening programs are discussed. 17 references.

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