Experiences of, and attitudes towards, pregnancy and fatherhood amongst incarcerated young male offenders: findings from a qualitative study

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Buston, Katie Margaret (2010)

Teenage parenthood is problematised in the UK. Attention is increasingly falling on the potential or actual father yet we still know relatively little about young men’s experiences and attitudes in this area. This paper focuses on the experiences of, and attitudes towards, pregnancy and fatherhood amongst a sample of men incarcerated in a Scottish Young Offender Institute. In-depth interviews were conducted with 40 inmates, aged 16–20, purposively sampled using answers from a questionnaire administered to 67 inmates. Twelve men reported eighteen pregnancies for which they were, definitely or possibly, responsible. All but one of the pregnancies were unplanned. Five of the men were fathers: two were still in a relationship with the mother of their child and were in close contact with her and the child while incarcerated, three, all of whom had separated from their partner before the birth, had had patchy contact with mother and child before and/or during their sentence. All five of the men expressed a strong desire to be ‘a good father’. Amongst the interview sample as a whole, most said they did not feel ready to become fathers. The main reason given was being unable to fulfil what they regarded as the key role of financial provider. Most of the men had given little or no thought to the possibility of a sexual partner becoming pregnant. Contraceptive use was high, however, amongst the minority who reported thinking about this possibility. The paper concludes by considering the cultural context of the men’s attitudes and the potential for intervention development for incarcerated male young offenders in the areas of Sex and Relationships Education and parenting.
  • References (1)

    Buston, K. (2008) Behind and beyond the prison bars: Young offenders talk about sex and relationships. Glasgow: MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit.

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