Primary Sources: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Fatherhood

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Like Father, Like Son: The Intergenerational Cycle of Adolescent Fatherhood” (abstract), American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 100, No. 3, March 2010.

What it's about: Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the authors studied 1,496 young men to see what factors contributed to their becoming teen parents.

Why read it: A number of studies have explored why daughters of adolescent mothers are more likely to be adolescent mothers themselves. This is the first research that addresses whether there is also an intergenerational component to teen fatherhood and what other risk factors may be at play.

Biggest takeaways for youth workers: A growing body of research shows that parents communicate their values and expectations through their own behavior. This study found that the connection holds for teen fatherhood. All other things being equal, sons of adolescent fathers were 1.8 times more likely to be adolescent fathers than sons of older fathers.

The researchers also found that teen dads were more likely to be Black or Hispanic and have the following risk factors:

  • Delinquency
  • Mothers with lower education levels
  • Histories of early dating
  • Environments characterized by physical danger

The authors suggest that teen pregnancy prevention programs create interventions that address the multiple layers of risk factors that are specific to preventing teen fatherhood.

Additional reference: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy has a section of their website devoted to males, at

(Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of NCFY, FYSB or the Administration for Children and Families. Go to the NCFY literature database for abstracts of this and other publications.)

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