Father Support and Adjustment Difficulties Among Youth in Residential Care: The Moderating Role of Peer Victimization and Gender

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Abstract

Father support of young people living in out-of-home settings is a neglected area of research. The study examines the moderating role of peer victimization in the association between father support and adjustment difficulties among male and female adolescents in residential care settings. Using random cluster sampling, the study includes the reports of 1,409 young people, in Grades 8 to 12, residing in 16 Israeli educational residential care settings designed for youth from underprivileged backgrounds. The findings show that, on average, fathers are highly involved in these young people’s lives. They also show that male adolescents, adolescents whose parents are married, Israeli-born adolescents, and those whose fathers have higher education levels have higher levels of father support. Father support is negatively associated with adjustment difficulties. A significant interaction was found between peer victimization, father support, and gender in predicting adjustment difficulties. Among boys who had experienced peer victimization at any point during their lives, the findings show a significant negative association between father support and adjustment difficulties. For boys who had never experienced peer victimization, the association was statistically insignificant. For girls, the picture revealed is different; for those who had experienced peer victimization, the level of father support was insignificantly linked with adjustment difficulties. For girls who had never experienced peer victimization, there was a significant association between increased father support and reduced adjustment difficulties. These findings shed light on ways in which father support is beneficial to young people in residential care, with implications for child welfare and education professionals.

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