Sydney:  Adolescent boys are likely to turn to delinquency if they do not have a father figure in their lives. However, the presence or absence of fathers does not seem to affect adolescent girls, says a new study.

It found the presence of a father figure during adolescence was most likely to have a preventive effect on whether male youths engage in risk-taking and deviant behaviour.

"The sense of security generated by the presence of a male role model in a youth's life has protective effects for a child...," said Melbourne University professor Deborah Cobb-Clark, who led the study.

"Fathers provide children with male role models and can influence children's preferences, values and attitudes while giving them a sense of security and boosting their self-esteem," said Cobb-Clark, according to a Melbourne statement.

"They also increase the degree of adult supervision at home which may lead to a direct reduction of delinquent behaviour," added Cobb-Clark, also director at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.

Researchers used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, US.

Additionally, higher family incomes were found to have little effect on solving the problems associated with youth delinquency.

(Agencies)