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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 150888 Find in a Library
Title: Risking the Future: Adolescent Sexuality, Pregnancy, and Childbearing
Editor(s): C D Hayes
Date Published: 1987
Page Count: 449
Sponsoring Agency: National Academies Press
Washington, DC 20001
Publication Number: ISBN 0-309-03698-4
Sale Source: National Academies Press
500 Fifth Street, N.W.
Keck 360
Washington, DC 20001
United States of America
Type: Issue Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Adolescent pregnancy is widely recognized as a complex and serious problem; more than 1 million teenage girls in the United States become pregnant each year, over 400,000 teenagers obtain abortions, and nearly 470,000 give birth.
Abstract: Most of the 470,000 births are to unmarried mothers, nearly half of whom have not reached their 18th birthday. For teenage parents and their children, prospects for a healthy and independent life are significantly reduced. In the absence of adequate nutrition and appropriate prenatal care, young mothers are at a heightened risk of pregnancy complications and poor birth outcomes. They are also more likely to become pregnant again while still in their teens. Further, infants of teenage mothers face health and developmental risks. Despite declining birth rates since 1970, adolescent pregnancy, abortion, and childbearing have remained considerably higher in the United States than in other developed countries. Teenage families with children are disproportionately fatherless, and most are poor. When they occur, teenage marriages are characterized by instability. In addition, teenage parents are more likely than those who delay childbearing to experience chronic unemployment and inadequate income. Teenagers become parents for two basic reasons: (1) lack of individual responsibility, maturity, knowledge, and values; (2) pervasive problems associated with poverty, including limited education and employment opportunities. There is widespread disagreement among political, educational, and religious leaders and parents about the problems of adolescent pregnancy and what to do about them. Nonetheless, preventing adolescent pregnancy should be a high priority. Sexually active teenagers need the ability and motivation to avoid pregnancy, and society should not treat adolescent sexuality as a problem peculiar to teenage girls. Responsibility for addressing the problems of adolescent pregnancy and childbearing should be shared by individuals, families, voluntary organizations, communities, and governments. Policy and program priorities are identified that focus on reducing the rate and incidence of unintended pregnancy among adolescents, providing alternatives to adolescent childbearing and parenting, and promoting positive outcomes for adolescent parents and their children. References, tables, and figures
Main Term(s): Juveniles
Index Term(s): Adolescent females; Adolescent males; Adolescent parents; Adolescent pregnancy; Adolescents at risk; Social conditions; US/foreign comparisons
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