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Little is known about the characteristics of boys who become fathers at young age. Some studies have suggested that antisocial adolescents are more likely to be young fathers. The aim of this study was to examine the associations of psychosocial factors in childhood with becoming a young father, and to assess if they are independent of criminal behavior in adolescence.
The baseline assessment in 1989 included 2,946 boys born in 1981. Information about psychiatric symptoms at age eight was collected with Rutter questionnaires from parents and teachers and with the Child Depression Inventory from the children themselves. Data on criminal offenses at age 16–20 was collected from a police register. Register-based follow-up data on becoming a father under the age of 22 was available for 2,721 boys.
The factors measured at age eight, which were associated with becoming a young father independently of adolescent criminality, were conduct problems, being born to a young father and having a mother with a low educational level. Having repeatedly committed criminal offences in adolescence was associated with becoming a young father independently of psychosocial factors in childhood.
Antisocial tendencies both in childhood and adolescence are associated with becoming a young father. They should be taken into consideration when designing preventive or supportive interventions.