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Teenage Fatherhood and Delinquent Behavior

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2000
8 pages
Publication Series
The Rochester Youth Development Study and the Pittsburgh Youth Study have tracked a sample of urban males through their teenage years and have provided data indicating that prior involvement in delinquent behavior increases the risk that a boy will become a teenage father and that becoming a teen father may lead to further delinquency.
These studies are part of the Program of Research on the Causes and Correlates of Delinquency, sponsored by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and initiated in 1986. The Rochester study has tracked a sample of 615 urban males in New York from 1988 through 1996. Results revealed that delinquency and drug use were significant risk factors for teen fatherhood. Race, neighborhood characteristics, parents' level of education, the youth's reading score, and early sexual activity also had significant correlations with teen fatherhood. A boy's chance of fathering a child also increased sharply as risk factors accumulated. The Pittsburgh study followed a sample of 506 inner-city adolescent males in Pennsylvania public schools from 1988 to 1993. Results revealed that early drug use was not a significant risk factor for teenage fatherhood, but delinquency was. Other significant risk factors for teen fatherhood included cruelty to people, being raised in a family on welfare, having been offered drugs or witnessed a drug deal, and factors similar to those in Rochester. Findings also indicated that the impact of becoming a teen father may in turn spur even greater delinquency. Findings of both studies suggested that intervention programs to reduce teen fatherhood should focus on inner-city minority youth who are involved in delinquency and drug use and who have an accumulation of risk factors. Findings also suggested that reducing teen fatherhood will require taking into account multiple and often interacting risk factors at different stages in the life cycle. Figures, table, list of resources for teen fathers, and 9 references

Date Published: January 1, 2000