Father’s presence cuts delinquency rates

Herald Sun 26 Nov 2011
TEENAGE boys without a father figure are more likely to go off the rails and turn to crime. But the chance of girls becoming delinquents was not affected by the absence of a dad or a stepdad, a study has found. The presence of a father figure can have a “preventive effect” on young males engaging in risk-taking and deviant behaviour, according to the study by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. While the father’s involvement in a son’s life was beneficial, it was the mere presence of a dad that affected delinquency rates. “The sense of security generated by the presence of a male role model has protective effects for a child, regardless of the degree of interaction between the child and father,” said Melbourne Institute director Deborah Cobb-Clark.

The report, using American data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, said the difference in males and females was not surprising, as risk-taking varied according to gender. “Females may be less sensitive to the increasing trend towards non-marital childbearing, divorce and remarriage,” said the report, co-authored with Erdal Tekin from Georgia State University.