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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? 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). 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 third group of antecedents are attitudes and beliefs about sexual behavior and pregnancy. These include beliefs, personal values, and perceived norms. Among the many factors which may lead to teen pregnancy, the four that are most predictive of early pregnancy are poverty, early behavioral problems, family problems, and a low self esteem. There are several theories about the reasons why so many young women in poverty become pregnant and carry to full term. Faced with an unintended pregnancy, many teens ...

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