Summary

Although research has found associations between teenage fatherhood and delinquency in the past, these studies provide a clearer assessment of the significant risk factors for teen fatherhood. These risk factors come from a wide range of domains, including race, area characteristics, family structural position, parental stress, school, early sexual activity, peers, individual characteristics, and deviant behaviors. The consistency of agreement in the Pittsburgh and Rochester studies reinforces the conclusion that, while there is no single explanation or decisive risk factor for teen fatherhood, early delinquency is one of the most significant risk factors for becoming a teen father. These two studies have differences in demographics (for example, an 85-percent minority sample in the Rochester study, with roughly equal racial distribution in the Pittsburgh study). They also differ somewhat in methodology, including differences in some variables measured and in the length of followup (6 years in the Pittsburgh study and 8 years in the Rochester study). Notwithstanding these differences, their major findings are in close agreement.

Each study also makes important additional findings concerning cumulative risk (Rochester study) and the impact of teen fatherhood on subsequent delinquency (Pittsburgh study). The Rochester study shows that an accumulation of risk factors dramatically heightens a boy’s risk of becoming a teen father. The impact of becoming a teen father may in turn spur even greater delinquency, the Pittsburgh study finds.

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Teenage Fatherhood and Delinquent Behavior Juvenile Justice Bulletin   ·  January 2000