Paths to adolescent parenthood: implications for prevention.
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Paths to adolescent parenthood: implications for prevention.

  • 1986 Mar-Apr

  • Source: Public Health Rep. 101(2):132-147
Filetype[PDF-2.88 MB]

  • English

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      Public Health Rep
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      Adolescent pregnancy and parenthood are increasingly common today and pose many problems for both the individual persons involved and society as a whole. For programs to address these issues successfully, factors associated with unintended pregnancy and resulting parenthood must first be identified and understood. This paper is a review of current research on the factors associated with the four steps leading to an adolescent becoming a parent. Being an adolescent parent requires taking a particular path at four crossroads: becoming sexually active, not using or incorrectly using contraceptives, carrying rather than aborting a pregnancy, and parenting rather than placing a child for adoption. Much research in the last 15 years has explored adolescent childbearing, but many studies only compared adolescent parents to nonparents to reach conclusions about differences in these groups. This review focuses on recent studies that explore the four processes, or crossroads, separately and it excludes studies that generalize and overlap these processes. Factors that influence adolescent behavior at multiple points on the path to parenthood indicate areas particularly relevant for preventive intervention. For instance, boyfriends exert influence at all four crossroads. Sexual activity and contraceptive use increase with longevity of relationships, yet closer relationships are less often associated with raising a child. Better general communication skills, and particularly an increased ability to discuss sexuality, increases use of contraceptives, and low educational and occupational aspirations appear to influence each successive turn toward parenthood. This summary of current research serves to highlight those individual, family, dyadic, and social factors that exert great impact on adolescent parenthood by influencing young people at each of the four crossroads. These factors suggest potentially effective points for intervention to reduce the incidence of adolescent parenthood. However, poverty, unemployment, and racism also play central roles in early intercourse and childbearing, and any attempt at fundamental change must take these forces into account.
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