Depression and anti-social behaviour in teenage boys could be triggered by poor parenting by the fathers.
According to a recent study, boys with harsh fathers, who never commended them, have low self-esteem and a third of them were depressed.
The study, conducted last year in four secondary schools in Kiambu, adds to existing evidence that paternal care protects against depression and plays a significant role in the mental well-being of adolescents.
“Paternal rejecting behaviours influence the development of depressive symptoms among adolescent’s boys,” Dr Ciriaka Gitonga, a psychologist and director at Pan African Christian University, said.
She conducted the study alongside Rebecca Kuboka, a counselling psychologist at a local NGO Youth Changers Kenya.
The study, which has not been published in a referred journal yet, was presented at the Kenya Medical Research Institute’s 8th Annual Scientific Conference in Nairobi, which ended on Friday.
Uneasy and tense
The researchers said they were concerned depression among boys does not get much attention, yet it is a major cause of antisocial behaviors and even suicide.
They interviewed 87 Form Three and Form Four students using well-established screening tests for depression and depressive disorder.
The study revealed 30 per cent of the boys had high levels of depressive symptoms. “The findings revealed a negative correlation between paternal care and depressive symptoms,” Gitonga said.
This means boys with poor paternal care are more likely to be depressed. Fifty-five per cent of the boys said their fathers hardly say nice things to them.
Another 43 per cent said they were uneasy and tense when around their fathers. This directly affected their self-esteem. “The study discovered that 40.2 per cent of the adolescents thought that they were not good at all, 44.8 per cent felt useless,” she said.