This study explored the relationship between the involvement of biological fathers and the sexual risk behaviors and dating violence/victimization and/or perpetration of adolescent girls. The data used in this cross-sectional analysis were drawn from the second wave of the public release of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Only adolescents who reported their biological sex as female, reported a history of being sexually active, and reported having a romantic partner in the previous 18 months were selected (N = 879). This study focused on overall positive sexual behaviors and use of contraception. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to best utilize capacity for dealing with latent variables and to test for possible mediation effects. The analysis demonstrated main effects of dating violence and father involvement on sexual behaviors. The more dating violence an adolescent girl experiences, the less likely she is to engage in healthy sexual behaviors. Likewise, the more involvement the biological father has in a woman's life, the more likely she is to engage in positive sexual behaviors. Perceived father involvement was associated with risky sexual behaviors among sexually experienced adolescent girls. Dating violence was directly associated with risky sexual behaviors among sexually experienced adolescent girls, particularly non-White girls. Future studies should use longitudinal models and test theoretically and empirically guided potential mediators. Future studies should also consider father figures such as step-fathers and grandfathers in addition to biological fathers, as having a father figure may be a stronger predictor of adolescent sexual behaviors than having a biological connection.
Keywords: child abuse; dating violence; domestic violence; family issues and mediators; youth violence.
© The Author(s) 2014.