CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE AND TEENAGE PREGNANCY
A Literature Review
Pregnancy rates among adolescent females have fallen steadily since 1990, from 116.9 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15-19 in 1990 to 75.4 pregnancies per 1,000 female teens the same age in 2002. Teens aged 15 to 17 experienced a decline in pregnancy rates of more than thirty percent, from 74.2 pregnancies per 1,000 in 1990 to 42.3 pregnancies per 1,000 in 2002. The rates for teens aged 18 to 19 also declined between 1990 (172.4 per 1,000) and 2002 (125.6 per 1,000). While the teen pregnancy rate has significantly declined since 1990, the United States continues to have a higher teen pregnancy rate than many countries in the western industrialized world. For example, data collected in the mid-nineties from 46 developed countries indicate that the teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. is higher than all but one of the countries examined, and is more than four times the rate in Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. Moreover, the teen birth rate in the U.S. in 2002 was more than double the rate for Canada. Regardless of the declines, teen pregnancy continues to be a serious problem that carries significant social costs for the teenagers, their children and society. Teen mothers are more likely than other young women their age to drop out of school, live in poverty and rely on public assistance, and their children tend to grow up in economically and educationally disadvantaged households. Consequently, it is important that teen pregnancy prevention efforts address the numerous factors linked to the experience of a pregnancy. One such factor is childhood sexual abuse, for which some evidence exists to suggest a significant association with adolescent pregnancy and childbearing.
The Children’s Bureau defines childhood sexual abuse as “a type of maltreatment that refers to the involvement of the child in sexual activity to provide sexual gratification or financial benefit to the perpetrator, including contacts for sexual purposes, molestation, statutory rape, prostitution, pornography, exposure, incest, or other sexually exploitative activities.”
The negative effects of sexual abuse on children are broad and include injury, disease, fear, anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, inappropriate sexual behavior, poor self-esteem, substance abuse, and difficulty with close relationships. Not only do victims of abuse experience immediate negative effects, but victims who experience sexual abuse during childhood may be vulnerable to negative outcomes in the years following abuse, including post-traumatic stress symptoms, substance abuse, gynecological complications, sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy. This literature review focuses specifically on the link between childhood sexual abuse and teen pregnancy and childbearing.
The purpose of this literature review is to examine the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and teen pregnancy by: 1) What is the link or correlation between childhood sexual abuse and teen pregnancy?; 2) Is childhood sexual abuse an underlying causal factor of teen pregnancy?
In a Journal, ‘The Relationship of Childhood Sexual Abuse to Teenage Pregnancy’ by Mark W. Roosa, Jenn-Yun Tein, Cindy Reinholtz, Patricia Jo Angelini they examined the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and teenage pregnancy. Three research questions guided this effort. First, do women who were sexually abused as children and women who had a teenage pregnancy have similar developmental backgrounds( socio demographic and risk factor profiles)? Second, does the risk for teenage pregnancy differ, based on whether a woman was sexually abused as a child, sexually precocious, or both? And for those who experienced both abuse and precocity, does the relative timing of these events make a difference in risk for teenage pregnancy? Third, does childhood sexual abuse contribute to an increased risk of having a teenage...
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