“Remain calm, negotiate or defer but by all means, call me”: Father-son communication to keep sons safe from violence involvement and victimization

Journal Name
Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Journal Volume
Year Published
Author (Individual)
Johnson, W., Dorsey, M., Rich, L. & Brooks, L.
Resource Type
Journal Article
Resource Format
Resource Language

The role of fathers in the lives of young men has been explored extensively in the literature However, Black fathers, and particularly those of boys who live in adverse circumstances, are often perceived as being uninvolved or without direct influence on the day-to-day functioning of their sons. As Black boys attempt to navigate stressful encounters associated with community violence and encounters with law enforcement, adequate social capital should be considered as it relates to the acquisition of skills needed to remain safe and maintain wellbeing.  Qualitative pilot findings emerging from 27 father-son dyads in the Fathers and Sons Communication Study suggest that Black fathers and father figures serve as assets or sources of family-based social capital in helping their sons to avoid violence and remain safe.  Fathers and father figures of Black boys who face high-risk circumstances provide unique insight into the experience of being a male living and surviving in the same or similar context. Findings from the current study offer a new perspective on how Black fathers' involvement contributes to the social development of Black boys, particularly behavioral adjustments and coping strategies in the face of biased and/or adversarial encounters with peers, community residents and law enforcement personnel.

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