As images of the murder of Tyre Nichols continue to flood the media, we pause to recognize that such images are also flooding our hearts, our homes, and our sense of hope. Our pulse is fading. Like me, your mind may be brimming with the images and sounds of those final, unconscionable moments. Tyre was a 29-year-old young man. He does not neatly fit the box of “children” and “youth” that CDF serves. However, we cannot adequately consider the life and death of Tyre Nichols without also considering his 4-year-old son. This is extremely important to recognize because in the U.S., 18.3 million children grow up without their biological fathers in the home. That means 1 in every 4 children. Statistics also reveal that children deriving from fatherless homes fare far worse in their overall mental and physical well-being as compared to children whose fathers are very present. Statistically speaking, children being raised without their fathers are more likely to:
- Commit suicide (63% of teen suicides)
- Suffer behavioral disorders (85%)
- More likely to be raised in poverty leading to crime (25%)
- Abuse chemical substances (10%)
- Lack in academic/educational achievements
Without a supportive community and aggressive advocacy, this may be all that is left for a 4-year-old child who is now forced to matriculate without his father, due to his being brutally beaten to death by police officers. In a post-George Floyd world, more people are awakening to the criminal justice system and its foundation of racial oppression. In an article by lawyer and author Derecka Purnell, she states, “the heartbreak and anger in writing about police is that they never run out of people to kill.” Purnell’s words reflect a harsh and disturbing reality. We are living in a perpetual state of hypervigilance—we cannot heal from one loss of life before being forced to endure yet another.
As an organization, CDF employs every effort to stand on the frontlines of advocacy daily to fight for and with children and youth who are disadvantaged by current systems. Our fight is for Tyre’s son and many others left without tools, support, and other resources that are necessary for establishing a solid foundation and facilitating a safe transition into adulthood. Not only are our efforts put toward the elimination and possible prevention of any acts that negatively impact children, but they are also put towards assisting young people who are struggling in the aftermath of such occurrences.
CDF is both moved and challenged by these recent unfoldings as we take our responsibility to serve children and their entire well-being sincerely and seriously. We endeavor to create healthy and supportive environments for all children, especially those most marginalized.