Unplanned Teenage Pregnancy

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DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES
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Unplanned Teenage Pregnancy and the Support Needs of Young Mothers Part B: Review of literature

Prepared by Krystyna Slowinski Research, Analysis and Information Team November 2001

Contents
Executive Summary ………………………………………………………….. 1 1.. Introduction …………………………………………………………….… 5 1.1 Background ………………………………………………………………. 5 1.2 Methodology …………………………………………..…..……..….…. 6 1.3 Language and Terminology ……………………..…..…….…….. 6 2. Adolescent Sexuality and Behaviour ………………………….…. 7 2.1 Determinants of sexual behaviour ……………….…….……... 2.2 Trends in sexual behaviour of teenagers …….…..….…….. 2.3 Sexual knowledge …………………………………….………….….. 2.4 Contraception knowledge and use …………….……..…….... 7 11 12 13

3. Teenage Pregnancy ……………………………………………………... 19 3.1 Teenage pregnancy risk factors ………………….……….…….. 19 3.2 Decisions about pregnancy ………………………………….….. 21 3.3 Hazards of adolescent pregnancy ……………….……….…… 24 4. Teenage Parenthood ………………………………………………….. 26 5. Service Provision …………………………………………….…..…….. 31 5.1 Prevention ………………………………………………………..……... 31 5.2 Support to pregnant and parenting adolescents ……….... 35 6. Special Needs Groups …………………………………………….….. 38 7. Summary …………………………………………………………………. 46 References …………………………………………………..……………….. 49

Executive summary
The literature review was conducted to identify risk factors associated with teenage pregnancy and parenthood, including patterns of teenage sexual behaviour, as well as current knowledge about effective strategies in teenage pregnancy prevention. The impact of teenage parenthood on parents and children and ways of supporting pregnant and parenting young women was also explored. The review relied predominantly on Australian literature in order to reflect local issues and perspectives. However, the need to consider more recent or extensive research in some areas required the use of overseas literature, mainly from the US and the UK. The main themes that emerged from the review are as follows:

Adolescent sexuality and behaviour
There are indications that the proportion of young people engaging in sexual activity at an early age is increasing. Recent surveys of young people in Australia suggest that about 20% of 15 year olds and nearly 50% of 17 year olds are sexually active (Lindsay et al., 1997). The timing of sexual initiation and subsequent sexual behaviour is influenced by many factors, including family characteristics and relationships, peer pressure and cultural norms, as well as socio-economic factors and personal characteristics. Most teenagers report "curiosity" and peer pressure as reasons for initiating sexual activity. There are also indications that some teenagers are pressured to have sex. Overseas research suggests that a significant proportion of first sex experiences are unwanted and the younger the person the more likely this is to be the case. There is substantial evidence to link inadequate adolescent knowledge and understanding of sexuality to higher teenage pregnancy rates. While the Australian research is not always clear, some of it points to gaps in adolescent knowledge about safe sex, human reproductive biology, and contraception suggesting the need for more information and education. The main sources of sexual knowledge for teenagers are school, family and friends. Studies report varied levels of contraception use amongst teenagers. Survey data has indicated 53.4% of teenage females and 71.5% of teenage males using condoms. However, teenagers are more likely to use contraceptives sporadically. Methods of contraception vary with age, relationship status and education with condoms being the most likely form of contraception for teenagers. Teenagers have a high failure rate with regard to contraceptives suggesting lack of adequate knowledge and information.

Unplanned Teenage Pregnancy Research Project – Review of Literature

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