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The Presence of the Social Father in Inhibiting Young Men's Violence

Wade C. Mackey and Ronald S. Immerman


Published: 2004/06/01


The suggestion is offered that the prior presence of a residual and biological father reduces the likelihood of violent behavior by his sons grown to adulthood. Data analyzed across the U.S. indicate that father absence, rather than poverty, was the stronger predictor of young men's violent behavior. The pattern was also found in predictions of violent crime rates based on the level of out of wedlock births from the prior generation. A consonant pattern was also found in cross-national surveys. Accordingly, developmental theories that would explain these patterns need to be constructed and policies that are designed to reduce the incidence of violent crimes and their sequelae may wish to take into account (i) how the presence of social fathers may tamp down violent behavior by their sons and (ii) how to maximize the opportunities for younger children to have an ongoing social father.