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Promoting Health Among African-American Boys Whose Fathers Do Not Live With Them


Host Institution
University of Michigan (previous center): Prevention Research Center of Michigan

Health Topics
Dissemination research | Healthy youth | Sexual health | Substance abuse prevention | Tobacco prevention and control | Violence prevention

The center’s Fathers and Sons program aims to prevent substance use, violent behavior, and early sexual initiation among African-American boys aged 8-12 years who do not live with their fathers. The program also aims to promote positive health behaviors among the boys by involving their fathers actively and effectively in their sons’ lives. Areas of focus are communication, cultural perspectives, and parenting skills. The program consists of 15 sessions, 2 to 3 hours each, held twice per week during a 2-month period.

From 2002 through 2006, 158 families participated in the program and completed surveys before and after the intervention; 129 families from a neighboring city served as the comparison group, which did not receive an intervention. From 2004 to 2009, researchers continued implementing and evaluating the program and documented the evaluation results and lessons learned.

The program successfully influenced several key factors believed to protect youth from engaging in health-risk behaviors. For example, parental monitoring, intention to communicate effectively with their sons, ability to teach their sons about race-related issues, communication about sex with son, and satisfaction with parenting skills were enhanced among fathers who participated in the program, compared with fathers who did not participate. For all participating boys, perceptions of their father’s monitoring behavior, communication about sex with their father, and intention to use strategies other than violence increased more than for comparable boys who did not attend the program.

The Fathers and Sons program has been packaged for future testing and replication. Researchers want to determine if final results are attributable to increased father-son time together, program content, or both.

Caldwell CH, Rafferty J, Reischl TM, De Loney EH, Brooks CL. Enhancing parenting skills among nonresident African American fathers as a strategy for preventing youth risky behaviors. American Journal of Community Psychology March 2010; 45(1-2):17-35.
Research Setting
City/Town | County/Parish | Urban area
Race or Ethnicity
Black or African American
Men or boys
Age Group
Children (4-11 years) | Adolescents (12-17 years) | Adults (25-49 years)
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Principal Investigator
Cleopatra Caldwell

Project Identifier
Fathers and Sons Program - Core Project (2004-2009)

Previous Project Identifier
Core Project (2004-2009)

Funding Source
PRC Program

Project Status
Not active