Absent Dads = Increased Risk of Daughters Engaging in Early Sexual Activity

Daughters are placed at greater risk for early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy when their father has left the family, according to a team of researchers who posed the question: Does Father Absence Place Daughters at Special Risk for Early Sexual Activity and Teenage Pregnancy? The team of researchers found that risk factors were especially high when Dad left before the daughter reached age 5. In fact, in these situations girls were five times more likely to experience an adolescent pregnancy than in families where Dad was present.

In discussing possible reasons why the father’s absence may encourage early sexual activity among daughters, the researchers cited Thornton and Camburn (1987): “We expect that many children know whether their parents are sexually active after a marital dissolution and that formerly married parents who continue to be sexually active serve as behavioral models for their maturing children, thus increasing the children’s levels of permissiveness.” Another possible explanation discussed by Draper and Harpending (1982 1988) is that girls in father-absent families conclude that parental investment is unreliable and unimportant, thus leading

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