Methods: Data and Sample: An analytic sample of 637 boys from the Fragile Families Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal birth cohort study, was derived from wave 5 when the focal child was 9-10 years of age.
Measures: Paternal measures assessed how often in the past month fathers did the following with the child; helped with homework/school assignments, talked about current events and played video/computer games. Likert scale responses included 0 “not in the past month”, 1 “1-2 times a past month”, 3 “once a week”, 4 “several times a week”, and 5 “every day.” Given the skewed distribution of data, variables were dichotomously recoded with “1-2 times and not in the past month” as 0 and all other responses as 1.
Neither boys self-reported nor parents reported child’s bullying perpetration behaviors; therefore, this measure was assessed by teachers. Teachers reported whether focal child bullies/threatens others. Responses ranged from 1 “never” to 4 “very often”. Given the skewed distribution of data, a dichotomous variable was created with “never” as 0 and all other responses as 1, indicating bullied/threatened others. Father’s poverty level and child self-report of bullying victimization was entered into the model as covariates.
Results: Logistic regression analysis concludes fathers who helped with homework (OR=.699, p<.001) and talk to their sons about current events (OR=.591, p<.001) once or more a week decreased the likelihood of them bullying/threatening others than boys whose fathers did not. Interestingly, boys whose fathers played video/computer games with them once or more a week were nearly 1.5 times more likely to bully/threaten others than fathers who did not (OR=1.450, p<.001). Regarding covariates, experiences of bullying victimization increased the likelihood of boys bullying others (OR=2.086, p<.001). Sons of fathers above the in/near poverty threshold were less likely to bully/threaten others than sons of fathers in/near poverty (OR=.692, p< .001). The model correctly classified 70.5% of the cases and explained 10.4% of the variance in boys bullying perpetration.
Conclusion and Implications: Study findings point to the differential impact of the types of activities that fathers engage in with their sons (e.g., video/games). These findings underscore the significant role of fathers in the care and healthy development of their sons. Anti-bullying prevention/intervention strategies must support the involvement of fathers and ensure they are included in their design.