Social work intervention for unmarried teenage fathers

Smith, Patrick J. D. (2006-03)

Thesis (DPhil (Social Work))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.


The study aimed to explore and describe the experiences, perceptions and needs of unmarried adolescent fathers and to assess the attitudes and attentiveness of selected social workers and organisations that provide services to adolescent parents. In view of the position in which teenage fathers find themselves and with regard to stereotyping and the disregard for their role as fathers, no concerted attempt is made by organisations to provide services to them. They are marginalized and despite changes in legislation and a Bill of Human Rights their needs are not attended to. A mixed research methodology was employed in conducting this exploratorydescriptive study. The study was advertised in the waiting rooms of relevant organisations, in consultation with pregnancy help centres, social work agencies and youth services. Those who responded were interviewed according to inclusion criteria for the study and those who did not qualify were referred to appropriate services. Confidentiality was assured and consent to participate in the study was discussed. A non-random sample of 32 participants was identified, ranging from 13 to 19 years were located of who 15 agreed to participate. Further attrition resulted in the sample being reduced to 12. Interview schedules were used to facilitate the discussion and to ensure that all participants were asked the same questions. The second part of the study explored the attitude and attentiveness of services to adolescent parents. All organisations providing such services were invited and seven eventually agreed to participate. Of these, four indicated that they were participating in their personal capacity. Interviews were guided by an interview schedule which aimed to explored attitude, attentiveness and capacity to provide services to unmarried teenage fathers. The findings of the study revealed that teenage fathers want to be involved with their children, but social stereotyping, unrealistic expectations of partners and family, and social discrimination militate against them. However, the support of family and the natal partner and her family, are factors that determine continued involvement. Services were perceived and experienced as negative and dismissive of their role as fathers.

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