Study: Fathers Needed to Protect Kids

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

June 16, 2006

A new study by a UVa professor shows the best way to protect your kids against abuse and crime is to make sure there is a biological or adoptive father in the house.

Brad Wilcox is a husband and father of three. Like any parent, Brad worries about his kids.

"The primary worries that I have as a parent revolve around my children's safety," said Wilcox.

That is what persuaded this sociologist at the University of Virginia to help with a study on protecting children against abuse and crime.

The report shows children living with their fathers in an intact married home are 50 percent less likely to be sexually abused, 50 percent less likely to end up in prison as a young adult, and three times less likely to become a young unwed mothers or fathers, compared to children living in a single-parent home.

Brad thinks it's because of biological and social reasons.

"Fathers provide children with a safe environment, with a non-abusive environment and they also provide them with a healthy sexuality," said Wilcox.

The study showed that an alarming number of girls who grew up apart from their fathers tended to hit puberty earlier, thus experience boys and sex at an earlier age.

But Brad knows not every child will face these problems.

"Most kids who grow up in that context are going to turn out just fine but the point is that Dad's play an important role in the lives of their kids and on average kids that are raised by their mother and father do better in a whole range of outcomes," said Wilcox.

Brad calls himself a neo-traditional dad who lays down the law but also shows his children affection, but to his daughter, he is just dad, a protector, a provider, and most of all a friend.

According to statistics nearly 39 percent of American children live without their fathers. More than a third of these children won't see their dad at all in a year's time.

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