Characteristics of Teen Fathers
Special Report - June 14, 2012
A new Child Trends report looks at the characteristics of the nine percent of young men who are fathers before age 20. The Child Trends report, “The Characteristics and Circumstances of Teen Fathers: At the Birth of Their First Child and Beyond,” which was released June 6, acknowledges that fathers represent “an important part of the teen pregnancy dynamic,” despite “relatively little [being] known about teen fathers.” It looked specifically at the 900,000 young men who were “between the ages of 12 and 16 in 1996” and went on to become “fathers before their twentieth birthday.” The report provides “a statistical portrait of teen fathers' characteristics at the time that their first child was born; their relationship status at the birth of that child; their subsequent experience fathering a child, if any; and their residential status at birth and in young adulthood.”
Among the report’s major findings:
- Most teen fathers (66 percent) were 18 or 19 years old when their first child was born.
- Nearly half (48 percent) of the teen fathers in the report were white, while the same percentage (48 percent) were Hispanic or black minorities.
- Fewer than one in 10 teen fathers were married, while more than one-quarter were cohabitating. “Two-thirds (66 percent) of the men who had been teen fathers were not living with a spouse or partner at the time of their first child's birth.”
- The minority (44 percent) of teen fathers who lived with their first child at birth were more likely to be living with that child when the father reached his early twenties62 percent versus 28 percent for the 56 percent of teen fathers who did not live with their first child at the time of their birth.
- Nearly half (49 percent) of the teen fathers in the study went on to have “at least one additional child by the time they were ages 22-24, sometimes with a different mother.” The report concluded that, “subsequent births in adolescence and young adulthood decrease young fathers’ opportunities for educational attainment and economic stability.”
The report also went on to look at the characteristics of teen fathers once they reached their early twenties. Among those findings were that just over one-quarter (26 percent) “were married by ages 22 to 24, 28 percent were cohabiting, and 46 percent were neither.” Interestingly, these breakdowns differed based on the father’s union status when his first child was born. Fathers who were married or cohabiting when their child was born split roughly one-third into the married (39 percent), cohabiting (30 percent), and not in a union (31 percent) groups. Uncommitted teen fathers were much more likely to remain uncommitted (56 percent) versus 26 percent cohabiting and only 19 percent being married.
The report concludes that teen fathers “share similarities with teen mothers in terms of age and marital status.” Specifically, 66 percent of teen fathers and 65 percent of teen mothers are age 18 or 19 when their first child is born. More than half of the fathers in the study who reported the mother’s age “said that she was also a teen.” Unfortunately, “previous research suggests that having two teen parents elevates the negative effects of teen childbearing for both parents and children. Additionally, teen mothers have a similarly low marriage rate (11 percent versus eight percent for teen fathers). According to the report, “children born to unmarried parents may experience more instability in family structure” which “has been linked to negative outcomes for children.”
As a result of these findings, the report calls for more support for teen fathers and efforts “to make male involvement more central to current pregnancy prevention approaches” and “to understand who becomes a teen father and what their trajectories are after they become parents” in an attempt “to inform father engagement and child support efforts,” as well as “to prevent early fatherhood and subsequent teen births, especially with different partners, and to better equip the current generation of teen fathers with the parenting skills they need to succeed.”
CDC Analyzes Teen Mom Contraceptive Use - January 26, 2012
Sex Standards Promote Gender Confusion - January 12, 2012
Federal Abstinence Funds Restored - January 10, 2012
NC Abortions and Teen Pregnancies Drop - December 14, 2011
Teen Sex Linked to Divorce - June 23, 2011
Abortions Down In NC, Steady Nationwide - January 18, 2011
NC Teen Pregnancy Rates Hit 3-year Low - February 4, 2010
NC Teen Pregnancy Rates Hit New Low - October 19, 2010
NC Abortion Profile Updated - November 3, 2009
Adolescent Sexual Health Trends Detailed - August 6, 2009
North Carolina Teen Birth Rate Increases - August 7, 2008
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