(Memphis) The MidSouth leads the nation when it comes to children being raised without their fathers.
In some of our neighborhoods, 82 percent of households are run by a single parent.
A Memphis police officer is hoping to change things by talking to young men about the importance of taking responsibility if they become fathers.
Meiangelo Taylor is trying to be a father-figure to those who are fatherless.
“I grew up without my father, always had my mother,” said 19-year-old Courtney Washington.
Taylor knows what that’s like, “For the most part, I was raised by my grandparents or my mom on her own.”
The Memphis police officer was raised by a mom struggling with addiction and yearned as a child for a father who wasn’t exactly there, “I think that’s a big reason for the crime we have in our city.”
He’s now spending much of his free time trying to heal young, fatherless men so they don’t grow up to do the same thing.
“He taught us the fatherhood initiative,” said Washington.
Taylor created a program for young men called Men ROAR (Restoring Order, Attitudes and Responsibility).
It’s a five-week program that he leads for free.
Young men join with the only benefit being learning how to be the father they never had.
“And show them a childhood that I never got,” said Washington.
“My motto is being present is one of the most precious and priceless, perfect gifts of father can give this child,” said Taylor. “If they would just be present and stand-up and be there for their child, I believe that our crime rate would drop tremendously in the city.”
He says fathers are needed for discipline, structure and guidance, what’s missing for many in the MidSouth, where in some neighborhoods, eight out of ten children are living without their dads.
“At 19 years of age, I had two children by two different women,” said Taylor.
Taylor’s hoping he can share his story so young men don’t make his mistakes or their fathers’.
“With education and encouragement, we can help change the next generation.”
He’s teaching men that the best present they can offer their child is their presence.
If you know a young man that might benefit from Taylor’s workshop, or if you want to help with his mission, you can call him at 901-288-8252 or email him at Meiangelo@yahoo.com.