Paternal Incarceration and Early Sexual Onset Among Adolescents
Despite a growing literature documenting deleterious intergenerational consequences of incarceration, relatively little is known about how exposure to paternal incarceration is associated with risk behaviors in adolescence. In this article, we use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 3405)—a cohort of urban children born around the turn of the twenty-first century and followed for 15 years—to examine the relationship between paternal incarceration and one indicator of adolescent risk behavior, early sexual onset. Results from adjusted logistic regression models show that paternal incarceration is associated with a greater likelihood of initiating sexual activity before age 15, in part resulting from externalizing problems that follow paternal incarceration. We also find that these associations are concentrated among boys living with their fathers prior to his incarceration. Given that paternal incarceration is a stressor concentrated among already vulnerable children, paternal incarceration may exacerbate inequalities in adolescent sexual risk behavior.
KeywordsAdolescent sexual activity Family instability Family stress Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study Paternal incarceration
Funding for the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study was provided by the NICHD through Grants R01HD36916, R01HD39135, and R01HD40421, as well as a consortium of private foundations (see http://www.fragilefamilies.princeton.edu/funders.asp for the complete list). Turney’s work on this project was supported by grants from the Foundation for Child Development and the William T. Grant Foundation.
- Abma, J. C., & Martinez, G. M. (2017). Sexual activity and contraceptive use among teenagers in the United States, 2011–2015. National Health Statistics Reports. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Google Scholar
- Achenbach, T. M. (1992). Manual for the child behavior checklist/2-3 and 1992 profile. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont Department of Psychiatry.Google Scholar
- Epstein, M., Bailey, J. A., Manhart, L. E., Hill, K. G., Hawkins, J. D., Haggerty, K. P., et al. (2014). Understanding the link between early sexual initiation and later sexually transmitted infection: Test and replication in two longitudinal studies. Journal of Adolescent Health, 54(4), 435–441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Harris, A. (2016). A pound of flesh: Monetary sanctions as punishment for the poor. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
- Haskins, A. R., Amorim, M., & Mingo, M. (2018). Parental incarceration and child outcomes: Those at risk, evidence of impacts, methodological insights, and areas of future work. Online First: Sociology Compass.Google Scholar
- Khan, M. R., Scheidell, J. D., Rosen, D. L., Geller, A., & Brotman, L. M. (2018). Early age at childhood parental incarceration and STI/HIV-related drug use and sex risk across the young adult lifecourse in the US: Heightened vulnerability of black and Hispanic youth. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 183(1), 231–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Morgan, S. L., & Winship, C. (2015). Counterfactuals and causal inference. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Roettger, M. E., Swisher, R. R., Kuhl, D. C., & Chavez, J. (2011). Paternal incarceration and trajectories of marijuana and other illegal drug use from adolescent into young adulthood: Evidence from longitudinal panels of males and females in the United States. Addiction, 106(1), 121–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Swisher, R. R., & Shaw-Smith, U. R. (2015). Paternal incarceration and adolescent well-being: Life course contingencies and other moderators. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 104(4), 1–29.Google Scholar
- Weschler, D. (1981). Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale—Revised (WAIS-R manual). New York: The Psychological Corporation. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
- Western, B. (2006). Punishment and inequality in America. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar