Children of single parents are six times more likely to be poor, says Edward Clarke, dean of the School of Science at the University of the Southern Caribbean.
Clarke was speaking at the Positive Youth Development Project 2015 at the Sir George Alleyne Building, Warner Street in St Augustine, on Monday.
He said research had revealed that the impact of absentee fathers was important because children who lived with only one parent were six times likely to be poor than children who lived with both parents.
"In addition, some researchers found that children suffered more emotional, behavioural and intellectual problems resulting in higher risk of dropping out of school, and alcohol and drug abuse," he said.
Clarke said it was noted the absence of fathers in families had tremendous consequences.
He said 60 per cent of the women incarcerated at the Golden Grove Prison and 60 per cent of boys at the Youth Training Centre were single mothers and had absentee fathers, respectively.
He said the now defunct LifeSport programme was a success to the children who visited the centres.
Clarke said the findings at three centres at La Horquetta, Mayaro and Malabar revealed that under the programme the boys benefitted but over 60 per cent had absent fathers.
"This was important, all dropped out of school and were in some gangs or just hanging out," he said.
Clarke said the boys learned to control anger, improve life and were thinking which determined their life.
"It internalised the issues. They came there with an attitude and they said it made them a better person, gave them certain changes with life by respecting others," he said.
He said many of the boys went on to pursue employment, their education, skills and training.
Gregory Sloane-Seale, programme co-ordinator of the Ministry of National Security's Citizen Security Programme, said the youths were at risk.
"There are environmental, social and family conditions that hinder their personal development in society and now there is a cyber society in our homes. Our children are at risk and we need to elevate our consciousness," he said.
Sloane-Seale said youth-friendly spaces needed to be created, youth workers needed to be available, go the extra mile, communicate and make the youths feel special while being honest.