Factors that Lead to Teen Pregnancy
Although the overall rate of teen pregnancy has been declining, the rates have remained high for teens that are most vulnerable. The great majority of Americans believe that teen pregnancies are a serious national problem, indeed a problem that is the major component of what is thought to be national moral decline. However, what causes these teens to become pregnant at such a young age? These include factors in the community and the family such as violent crime, poverty, unemployment, family marital disruption, parents’ lack of education, poor child rearing practice, lack of parental support, and inappropriate sexual pressure or abuse. The second group also includes factors in the individual teen such as lack of religious affiliation, drug and alcohol use, engaging in risk behaviors and deviance, delinquency, poor educational performance, and low expectations for the future. A large body of research has identified a number of factores that underlie teen sexual and contraceptive behavior, pregnancy, and childbearing. There exists a three part framework of the factors underlying teen pregnancy. There are biological antecedents, including gender, age, testosterone level, and timing of puberty. These factors are causally related to adolescent sexual and contraceptive behavior and pregnancy. A second group of antecedents can be viewed as “manifestations of social disorganization or advantage” (Kirby, 1997). The large, complicated, and interrelated accumulation of factors suggest that the course that leads to adolescent sexual activity and pregnancy is complex. Kirby states that “not merely one or two, but a multitude of antecedents are related to one or more sexual behaviors and pregnancy, including characteristics of the teens themselves, their peers and sexual partners, their families and their communities and states” (Kirby, 1997). In addition, parental marital disruption and living with a single parent is associated with...
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