Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Brenda J. Lohman


The objectives of the present study were to: (1) understand how a father's absence can influence an adolescent's early sexual debut differently for males and females; and (2) identify the individual and family risk and protective factors associated with rates of early sexual debut. This study used a sample of adolescents from Welfare, Children, and Families: A Three-City Study, Waves 1 (age 10-14 years) and Wave 3 (age 15-20 years) (n=928). Risk factors assessed included adolescent school problems as well as drug and alcohol use, while protective factors assessed included positive father-adolescent relationships, parental monitoring and adolescent academic achievement. To expand the current literature on both male and female sexual debut, duration of father absence was considered. Logistic regressions were conducted to test the impact of father absence on early sexual debut, despite individual and family risk and protective factors. Findings revealed that gender and delinquency (both school problems and drug and alcohol use) are predictors of early sexual debut. Furthermore, a significant interaction was found between adolescent gender and father absence. Specifically, the longer a father is absent (in years) from the household, the greater the odds of early sexual debut for girls; however, this effect was not statistically significant for boys. Implications regarding these findings are discussed to provide a better understanding regarding the risk and protective factors associated with early sexual debut across genders.


Copyright Owner

Lailatul Qamar Ali Husin



File Format


File Size

54 pages