ERIC Number: ED264316
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1985-Apr
Teen Fathers in the Inner City: An Exploratory Ethnographic Study. A Report to the Ford Foundation Urban Poverty Program.
Sullivan, Mercer L.
Ethnographic interviews and observations were conducted with a group of teenage males from one inner-city neighborhood who were biological and/or social fathers, i.e., males who were fulfilling fathering roles toward the children of their girlfriends. Some of the respondents were not supporting their children, but most were contributing partial support, usually without the knowledge of institutional service providers. They were interviewed concerning the social development of their attitudes and behavior with regard to sexuality and parenting and how their development was influenced by their parents, peers, and neighbors as well as by schools, employers, social service agencies, and the criminal justice system. The interviewers paid particular attention to the role played by high rates of unemployment and underemployment within local communities and how these economic hardships shaped the households and families of these individuals. The findings of the study challenge pre-existing stereotypes of universally heedless, exploitative, and irresponsible behavior. While some of the respondents' behavior may be seen as exploitative and thrill-seeking, this did not preclude strong feelings of paternity. The young fathers, their peers who were non-supporting fathers, and other residents of their community all condemned the abandonment by fathers of their children. At the same time, all members of the community recognized the difficulty of obtaining jobs, particularly for those still in their teens. A remarkable diversity of arrangements for child care and financial support found within the sample suggests that economic and educational opportunities are as influential as moral character or ability in determining who in this community works, receives welfare, or takes care of children. Finally, these data suggest several ways in which current social policies affect patterns of fathering, ranging from sex education and school programs for parenting teens to child support requirements, welfare services, and employment training programs. (KH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Ford Foundation, New York, NY.
Authoring Institution: Vera Inst. of Justice, New York, NY.
Identifiers - Location: New York (New York)