Dynamics of gender, age, father involvement and adolescents’ self-harm and risk taking behaviour in South Africa
While psychological literature show that risky and self-harm behaviours are high among adolescents, unfortunately, many studies do not look at how father involvement (FI) among adolescents interplay with age and gender to influences adolescent risky and self-harm behaviours. Using a cross-sectional design, data was collected from 479 High School Learners in a predominant black Secondary School community in North West Province, South Africa. Of the 479, (299 [62.4%] were males and 180 [37.67%] were females. The average age of the respondents was 16.6 years (SD = 1.11), with a range from 14 to 20 years. Results show that FI significantly influenced RTB [F (1,471) = 3.377, P<.05] but not for SHB. There was a significant main effect for gender and RTB, [F (1,471), = 23.668, P<.001] and again not for SHB. Age was not significant for both RTB and SHB but interacted with FI to significantly predict RTB [F (1,471), =3.672, P<.05] and SHB [F (1,471), =3.646, P<.05]. In general, ♀s (females) had higher scores than males (♂s) on RTB and SHB. High FI helps drops scores of RTB and SHB. Younger learners had higher RTB scores when FI is low but significantly drops when FI is high. Older learners show higher scores on SHB when FI is high and finally, older ♀s seem to be more problematic than older ♂s on RTB while ♂s are more problematic for SHB. Recommendations were made based on the findings of the study including the need to have mandatory clinical psychological services in schools for assessment and early detection of learners at risk and the need for a general attitudinal change among fathers to be involved in the lives of their children.
Keywords: Gender/Age/Father, involvement/Self-harm/Risk-taking, behaviour/South Africa