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Adolescent Parenthood

Antecedents Of Adolescent Pregnancy

Research consistently shows that there is no single factor associated with the specific behaviors that lead to adolescent pregnancy (e.g., early initiation of sexual intercourse, lack of access to information and services, nonuse or inconsistent use of contraception). Instead, multiple factors place adolescents at risk for pregnancy, including family structure, economic disadvantage, community disadvantage, family, peer, and partner attitudes and behavior, and characteristics of teens themselves (e.g., Coley and Chase-Lansdale 1998). Like adolescent mothers, the fathers appear to exhibit many of the same risk factors (e.g., Thornberry et al. 1997). Studies on non-U.S. samples of adolescent parents suggest similar findings (e.g., Dearden et al. 1995; Gupta and Leite 1999; Lee et al. 1997; Olenick 1999).

For instance, living in a lower socioeconomic household, being raised in poverty by a single parent, having older and sexually active or pregnant/parenting siblings, and residing in rural settings and communities with high rates of poverty, welfare use, and single-mother households place teens at elevated risk of early pregnancy. These same adolescents exhibit certain behaviors and hold particular attitudes that also elevate their risk for pregnancy, such as having lower self-esteem, doing less well in school, having low educational aspirations, and perceiving lower educational, career, and economic opportunities. The early onset of adolescent sexual behavior and pregnancy also is linked to other problem behaviors (e.g., use of alcohol, tobacco, and/or drugs, delinquency, violence); in the United States, these linkages tend to be stronger for whites than for African Americans. Also, findings show that parent-child connectedness, parental supervision, monitoring, or regulation of children's activities, and parents' values against teen intercourse or unprotected intercourse decrease the risk of adolescent pregnancy.

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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaPregnancy & ParenthoodAdolescent Parenthood - Trends In The United States, International Trends, Antecedents Of Adolescent Pregnancy, Adoption, Marriage, And Single Parenthood