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The Antecedents and Consequences of Adolescent Fatherhood in Black Males


Nearly 11 million adolescent fathers between the ages of 15 and 44 live in the United States. Adolescent fathers are stereotyped as reckless teenagers and uninvolved parents. However, little research has examined the veracity of these negative perceptions about adolescent fathers. The goals of the current two-study dissertation were to (a) systematically review the published peer-reviewed literature on the antecedents and consequences of adolescent fatherhood and (b) test hypothesized antecedents of adolescent fatherhood in a sample of Black males.

Results from the systematic review indicated that the adolescents at greater risk of becoming adolescent fathers (i.e., antecedents) are more likely to be Black or Latino and come from low socioeconomic status backgrounds as characterized by lower parental education and income. Adolescent fathers are also more likely to come from low socioeconomic status neighborhoods, engage in delinquent behavior and substance use, have lower academic competence, and have peers who engage in deviant behaviors. With regard to consequences, findings demonstrated that the offspring of adolescent fathers are at greater risk for adverse birth outcomes and the children of adolescent fathers are at greater risk for psychological disorders.

Findings from Study 2 demonstrated that over and above other hypothesized individual antecedents, Black male adolescents who engaged in sexual intercourse prior to the age of 15 were three times more likely to become adolescent fathers than adolescents who waited until they were older than the age of 15. Adolescents with mothers who would be more disappointed if they completed college were also less likely to become adolescent fathers, over and above other familial antecedents (e.g., maternal educational attainment, maternal disapproval of sex). Univariate analyses also demonstrated that adolescents who engaged in more delinquent behavior and who had lower educational aspirations were more likely to become adolescent fathers.

Findings from these two studies contribute to our understanding of the adolescents most at-risk of becoming fathers as teens as well as the problems they face as young parents. These findings can guide future research on adolescent fathers and potentially the development of interventions to prevent adolescent fatherhood and to assist adolescents who do become fathers.

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