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Parents of Black Youth

Brown, S. (1983). The Commitment and Concerns of Black Adolescent Parents

. Social Work Research and Abstracts.



(Download Commitment & Concerns overview as a PDF)

To challenge several race-linked assumptions often made by researchers studying the sexual morality of black teenagers.




A non-random sample of thirty-three black, low-income couples was studied (note that the violation of randomness means that the conclusions cannot be generalized beyond this sample). The significance of this study is that males, who previously had been ignored in this type of study, were included in the study questionnaire. The questionnaire asked about the couples’ relationships, attitudes, and behavior with respect to premarital sexual intercourse, contraception, and abortion. It also inquired about their attitudes and concerns regarding forthcoming parenting responsibilities. The study possessed several unique features:

  • It was heuristic and more inclusive in considering the attitudes of both prospective parents.

  • It included young fathers, who had been missing from previous studies, and helped to assure them that they will be included in future studies.




The following conclusions were made by the researchers:

  • The male partner seems to play a much more important role in teenage pregnancies than previously thought.
  • Fidelity is highly prized among young, black males and females.
  • Strong teenage affection often leads to intimacy and pregnancy.
  • Expectant fathers were much more concerned about their financial responsibilities than were expectant mothers; expectant mothers were more concerned about limitations on their leisure time after the baby’s birth than were expectant fathers.
  • More couples intended to resume their sexual relationship after the baby’s birth.
  • Few couples knew the most effective means of birth control (a finding consistent with national studies).
  • The expectant fathers were ambivalent about their responsibility for birth control.

  • Like many other black youth, most couples did not believe in adoption or abortion as alternatives to keeping the child.



    • Youth leaders must be prepared to suspect or even to challenge the perspectives of researchers and professionals concerning the poor and minorities. Most past research and social work viewed pregnancy as a strictly female problem. But counseling must include both partners and the responsibility for the baby should be placed on the partnership.
    • Because adolescence is so prolonged in our society, and our culture bombards the young with sexual messages, young people need counseling about the ramifications of their sexual behavior. Youth leaders need to talk more about optional sexual behaviors, methods of contraception, and the problems of teenage parenthood.

  1. The study shows that many black teenagers involved in premarital sexual relationships are more emotionally committed to the relationship than generally assumed. These teenage relationships should be treated seriously and sexual matters should be discussed frankly.

Dean Borgman cCYS