Teen Fathers: An Introduction

By Colette Kimball, M.P.H.
The Prevention Researcher,
Volume 11, Number 4, 2004, Pages 3-5, Item# A114-KIMBALL

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Data from the National Center for Health Statistics suggests that about 17.4 per 1,000 males ages 15-19 years became teen fathers in 2002. Longitudinal studies suggest this number might be even higher. While the incidence of teen fatherhood is lower than that of teen motherhood, these young men are a potential resource for their child, as well as individuals with their own unmet needs. This introductory article to the topic of teen fatherhood, explores the challenges adolescent fathers experience.

Teen fathers face a developmental dilemma. They need to transition into parenthood while simultaneously going through adolescence and becoming an adult. Their fatherhood is impacted by both their ethnicity and cultural norms. Teenage fatherhood grows out of both personal and social contexts which influence young men's decisions regarding being sexually active, whether to use contraception, and pregnancy outcomes. Despite common stereotypes, there is increasing evidence that teen fathers want to be (and are) involved with their children in some ways. Teen parent programs which help young fathers with the legal aspects of fatherhood, help them become self-sufficient, teach effective parenting skills, and promote healthy lifestyles have shown to be effective.

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