Los Angeles, CA–Here’s an odd little study courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice. It purports to study what environmental factors tend to promote delinquency in girls and which tend to protect against it.
Now, it is no longer subject to debate that the presence of an involved father in the life of a girl provides a myriad of benefits including reduced delinquency and delayed sexual activity. So you might be surprised to learn that that fact is nowhere mentioned or referred to in this study. Or you might not be surprised, depending on how much experience you’ve had with the dogged marginalization of fathers in American society.
The study does, however, find that the presence of a “caring adult” has some beneficial effects, but the relationship of that adult to the girl is barely mentioned. Father? Mother? Teacher? Neighbor? We can only guess. But the study suggests that the greater the likelihood of such and adult in a girl’s life, the less likely she’ll engage in delinquent behavior. So it’s possible to conclude, if you work at it, that these researchers would admit that having an involved father around is a good thing in a girl’s life.
The study also finds that making good grades in school has a “protective” effect, i.e. it tends to protect the girl from delinquency. Of course that’s probably a classic case of confusing cause with effect. But more important, the authors seem blissfully unaware that the presence of an involved father in a child’s life tends to improve the child’s school performance. So could it be that the school success that the authors like so much was really caused by greater father involvement? We don’t know and this study isn’t about to tell.
Thanks to Ron for bringing this to my attention.