Trust for the Study of Adolescence

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Supporting Young Fathers Network

Home » Reaching Young Fathers » School-Age Fathers - Learning Points

'School-age dads can be reached. it's taken a lot of work to challenge and give other professionals a helping hand up to understand that - we work hard to ensure health professionals reach young dads as well as the mums. Every bit of information for young dads is there. and they're really interested.'

Learning points:
  • Perhaps the largest barrier to engaging with school-age fathers is finding them in the first place. In school, acknowledging the young father often relies on him coming forward, whereas for the mother recognition and support are much more visible and explicit. It is important to explore how best the culture and ethos in schools can be influenced so that pupils who are parents-to-be (male or female) feel more able to come forward early to access the support that is available to them. In doing so, it is also important for such support (where available) to be rendered more 'visible' to both schools and pupils.
  • Evidence from work with school-age/teenage fathers shows the youngest fathers want to be involved in the care of their child, but their circumstances can conspire to exclude them:

'...often it's a case of the status of their relationship - they may have only been together a matter of weeks and not officially in a relationship - and that relationship isn't recognised by either family. So, very quickly the young man will be pushed out of the equation.'

  • It's not just the attitudes of many professionals that must be challenged about working with school-age and teenage fathers. The attitudes of young mothers and young fathers themselves also need to be challenged. Pilot research in Croydon and Lewisham (South London) by Working With Men (WWM) has revealed that many young fathers are much more involved with the young mother and their child than professionals believe:

'It's not only professionals' attitudes that are problematic here - we're talking about something much more complicated. We've got to point a finger at those young mothers and young fathers. as there are some attitudes here that need to be challenged in their perception of the housing and benefits system. They think that to present as a couple is problematic - so young mothers are saying very little about the young dads - they want them involved, the young father wants to be involved - but neither are telling anyone that they are involved.'

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