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Qual Health Res. 2013 Apr;23(4):435-49. doi: 10.1177/1049732312470520. Epub 2012 Dec 21.

Adolescent fathers in the justice system: hoping for a boy and making him a man.

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Samuel Merritt University, Oakland, California 94609, USA.


Using a constructivist grounded theory approach, we explored the development of father identity among boys involved in the juvenile justice system. Youth were recruited from a juvenile detention center and school district in a northern California county with a high teen birth rate. The participants were expecting a child or parenting an infant and had been arrested, incarcerated, or had committed a crime. We collected data through observations and individual interviews. Using constant comparative and dimensional analysis, we found that expectant adolescent fathers hoped for a boy and envisioned their central role as father to be making their son a man. This article contributes to greater understanding of father identity development for youth involved in the justice system. We suggest that teen parenting policies and programs include interventions sensitized by gender, accounting for the influence masculine ideals of manhood have on the development of father identity and the father-child relationship.

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