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Hchs section 6

By Adena B. Meyers, PhDIllinois State University The term adolescent pregnancy brings to mind a number of related issues such as adolescent sexuality, premarital sex, birth control, abortion, adolescent childbearing, adolescent parenthood,unplanned pregnancy, unintended birth, out-of-wedlock birth, and single motherhood. Many of theseissues are highly controversial. Therefore, it may be difficult to consider adolescent pregnancy itself. Though adolescent pregnancy is related in one way or another to all of these other issues, it is important to keep in mind that it is distinct from each of them. Adolescent pregnancies, like adultpregnancies, may be planned or unplanned; may involve married couples or single individuals; and mayresult in miscarriages, abortions, or childbirth. Although adolescent sexual behavior may sometimesresult in pregnancy, usually it does not.
The idea that adolescent pregnancy is a problem, and one that should be prevented, is relatively new.
During the baby boom of the 1950s, more than 25% of all women had their first birth before age 20, yetthis was not considered worrisome. Not until the early 1970s, when pregnant and parenting teenagers wereless likely to be married, did adolescent pregnancy begin to seem a serious social problem. In recent years U.S. rates of adolescent pregnancy, abortion, and childbirth have been steadily declining. Between 1970 and 1990, more than 1 million adolescents in the United States becamepregnant each year, but by the late 1990s, the number had dropped to fewer than 900,000 per year.
Similarly, 12% of all teenage women in the United States became pregnant in 1990, yet fewer than 9%became pregnant in 1999. Whereas about 4.5% of all teenage women had abortions each year duringthe mid 1980s, this rate has declined throughout the 1990s to 2.5% in 1999. Research indicates that a variety of factors have contributed to these declines, including a small drop in the rate of adolescent sexual behavior and a small increase in contraceptive use among sexuallyactive teens. In addition, state laws requiring minors to obtain parental consent or to notify their parentsbefore obtaining an abortion also may help explain trends in adolescent abortion. However, the most important factor in the reduction in teen pregnancy, childbirth, and abortion appears to be an increased use of more effective contraceptive methods. That is, more adolescents thanever before are using highly effective long-acting hormonal contraceptives such as Norplant and Depo-Provera. Although these methods of birth control do not stop the spread of sexually transmittedinfections such as HIV, they are extremely effective for pregnancy prevention. With hormonal implants orshots, adolescents do not have to remember to take a pill every day or know how to use condomsproperly to be protected against unwanted pregnancy. Despite these trends, teenage pregnancy and childbearing are still occurring in the United States at exceedingly high rates when compared to other developed countries. For example, recent statisticsindicate that adolescents become pregnant in the United States at nearly twice the rate of adolescentsin Great Britain and Canada, and at roughly four times the rate of those in France.
This is alarming because of the many negative consequences associated with adolescent pregnancy.
It is estimated that adolescent pregnancy costs society as much as $7 billion per year. Close to 80% ofadolescent pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, with about one-third ending in abortionsand more than 40% ending in unintended births. Today, most adolescents giving birth are not married(e.g., in 1996 fewer than one fourth of adolescents who gave birth were married), yet only a smallfraction of teen pregnancies result in adoption.
Moreover, adolescent childbearing appears to be associated with a variety of negative outcomes for young mothers and their children. For example, adolescent mothers are more likely than their same-age peers Helping Children at Home and School II: Handouts for Families and Educators to drop out of school, rely on welfare, be unemployed, and believe that families are the most appropriate providers report high levels of psychological distress such as anxiety of sexuality education and pregnancy prevention and depression. Pregnant adolescents are less likely than messages, and others prefer to leave the responsibility older women to obtain adequate prenatal health services, entirely in the hands of schools, effective prevention and are more likely to deliver pre-term and low birth-weight does involve the active participation of parents as well babies. Ultimately, their children are at risk for a number of developmental problems including cognitive delay, schoolfailure, and aggressive behavior. What Schools Can Do
Many schools include some form of pregnancy Teen Fathers? Not Necessarily
prevention within their health education curricula. Best Research indicates that teenage fatherhood may practice would suggest that any school-based attempts not play as large a role as adult fatherhood in the phenomenon of teenage pregnancy. It is estimated thatas many as two thirds of the fathers of children born to Sexuality education: Effective prevention programs school-age mothers are adults, and these adult fathers usually include educational components that are often at least four years older than the adolescent provide accurate information about the risks mothers of their babies. Having an adolescent father is associated with unprotected intercourse and not necessarily a disadvantage for the children of methods to avoid these risks. A concern raised in adolescent mothers. For example, older fathers are no some communities is that teaching young people more likely than younger fathers to be involved in their about sex and birth control may convey the children’s upbringing. Regardless of the father’s age, message that it is suitable for teens to have sex.
fathers who are involved during adolescent pregnancy The research data suggest this concern is and childbirth are more likely to be involved during the unfounded. Pregnancy prevention programs do not significantly increase rates of sexual activity, Problematic developmental outcomes have been regardless of whether the programs emphasize observed among teens who do become fathers.
Research suggests that teenage fathers have higher Active learning: Effective programs tend to use rates of school dropout, absenteeism, and legal conflict active learning techniques to present sexuality when compared to adolescent boys who are not fathers.
information. Examples include group discussions, In addition, there is some evidence that being physically role-playing, and live skill practice (e.g., going to or sexually abused or exposed to domestic violence in stores or clinics to practice accessing birth control).
childhood increases the odds that a boy will become Access to birth control: Most effective pregnancy involved in an adolescent pregnancy, either as a contraceptive services, often through school-basedor school-linked clinics. Obviously, distributing birth Risk Factors
control in schools is highly controversial. However, Although adolescent pregnancy occurs among all research indicates that providing adolescents with racial, cultural, and socioeconomic groups, some access to contraception does not result in increased adolescents are more likely than others to become pregnant. Adolescents who experience some or all of the Interpersonal skills: Many effective programs include following are at greatest risk of becoming pregnant: training in interpersonal skills such as decisionmaking, negotiation, communication, and refusal of Low academic achievement and low career aspirations.
sexual advances. This training generally involves modeling, instruction, and various types of skill Socioeconomic disadvantage including poverty and being raised in a single-parent home.
Values: Effective programs take a clear stand Early sexual behavior (i.e., before the age of 15).
regarding what is and is not appropriate, and are Lack of parental monitoring and supervision.
designed to shape group norms. Many specificallyemphasize abstinence as the best way for teens to Prevention
avoid unwanted pregnancy. However, since birth Adolescent pregnancy is both a private problem control information and access are also important, that occurs within families and a public problem that many effective interventions teach that abstinence affects entire communities. Although some people is the best choice, but they also encourage Pregnancy in Adolescence: Information for Parents and Educators adolescents to practice safer sex should they chose adolescents report that they have not discussed sex with their parents. A one-time discussion about Abstinence versus safer sex: The relative emphasis pregnancy will be much less effective than an on- placed on abstinence, as opposed to safer sex, varies from program to program. Effective programs Monitor your adolescent’s activities: Setting limits is promote norms and values appropriate for the an important part of a parent’s responsibility. These specific populations they target. For example, an limits change as children mature, but even with intervention aimed at middle-school students who adolescents, it is important to be aware of what your have not yet become sexually active places the most children are doing, where they are, and with whom.
emphasis on abstinence. In contrast, interventions Seek out accurate information: It is fine if you do not aimed at high-risk teens who are predominantly know all the answers. Numerous resources are sexually experienced stress condom use and other available for those who are seeking information Drop out prevention: Poor academic performanceand low career aspirations place adolescents at risk Resources
for teen pregnancy. There is evidence that reducing Meyers, A. B., & Landau, S. (2000). Preventing early school drop out rates and helping struggling sexual behaviors: Sociopolitical issues and the students succeed in school, as well as plan their design of empirically supportable school-based future careers, actually lead to lower rates of teen interventions. In K. Minke & G. Bear (Eds.), Preventing school problems—Promoting school Involvement of parents: Parents are likely to feel success: Strategies and programs that work (pp.
more comfortable about school-based sexuality 299–336). Bethesda, MD: National Association of education and pregnancy prevention if they are School Psychologists. ISBN: 0-932955-89-4.
invited to participate in curriculum development. Websites
What Parents Can Do
Alan Guttmacher Institute— Parents can contribute to pregnancy prevention in a Provides access to Fact Sheets and reports summarizing recent statistics about adolescentsexuality and pregnancy. It also offers a full-text Be involved: Learn what types of pregnancy version of the current issue of Family Planning prevention services are provided in your community and at your child’s school. If possible, participate in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention— curriculum development. Know what is covered and what is not, so that any discussions that you have Information about health promotion, disease with your child can complement the information prevention, and epidemiological data.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America— Be realistic: By the time adolescents graduate from high school, some have not had sexual intercourse.
However, more than half have become sexually active. Even if your adolescent is not sexually active, developments (particularly regarding abortion laws it is likely that some members of the peer group are and policies), answers to frequently asked questions sexually experienced. Many youngsters report that about sexual health, and information targeted they learn more about sex from their peers than specifically at adolescents. It also provides a list of Be brave: Even though discussions with your teen Sexuality Information and Education Council of the about sensitive subjects such as sex, relationships, United States (SIECUS)— and birth control can be uncomfortable for many Offers an array of comprehensive sexuality parents, these conversations can be extremely education resources for adolescents, parents, important. For example, research indicates that professional educators, and religious groups as well teenagers who discuss condoms with their mothers as information specifically relevant to adolescent Be persistent: Nearly all parents report they have ( Also discussed sex with their adolescents, but many includes a detailed annotated bibliography, Sexuality Helping Children at Home and School II: Handouts for Families and Educators Education in the Home(, thatdescribes more than 100 print, video, and on-lineresources available for families, parents, children,and adolescents and provides easy access to on-line Psychologists (NASP) offers a widevariety of free or low cost onlineresources to parents, teachers, and others Adena B. Meyers, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Illinois State University. the NASP website
and the NASP Center for Children & Families website 2004 National Association of School Psychologists, 4340 East West Highway, Or use the direct links below to
Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814—(301) 657-0270.
access information that can help you improve outcomesfor the children and youth in your care. About School Psychology—Downloadable brochures,
FAQs, and facts about training, practice, and career
choices for the profession.
Crisis Resources—Handouts, fact sheets, and links
regarding crisis prevention/intervention, coping with
trauma, suicide prevention, and school safety.
Culturally Competent Practice—Materials and resources
promoting culturally competent assessment and
intervention, minority recruitment, and issues related to
cultural diversity and tolerance.
En Español—Parent handouts and materials translated
into Spanish.
IDEA Information—Information, resources, and advocacy
tools regarding IDEA policy and practical implementation.
Information for Educators—Handouts, articles, and
other resources on a variety of topics.
Information for Parents—Handouts and other resources
a variety of topics.
Links to State Associations—Easy access to state
association websites.
NASP Books & Publications Store—Review tables of
contents and chapters of NASP bestsellers.
Order online.
Position Papers—Official NASP policy positions on
key issues.
Success in School/Skills for Life—Parent handouts that
can be posted on your school’s website.
Pregnancy in Adolescence: Information for Parents and Educators



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