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J Sch Health. 1993 Dec;63(10):429-32.

School-age pregnancy: why hasn't prevention worked?

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Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA 90041-3384.



Adolescent pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease (STD) reduction has not occurred, despite sexuality education and abstinence programs, and intensive publicity and community initiatives. An obstacle to adolescent pregnancy, STD, and childbearing prevention is the assumption that adolescent sexuality is a closed system of activity among peers. When a nation is consumed with the preoccupation of condoms versus chastity debates, and is ignoring high poverty levels and abuse of the young, adolescent girls will seek escape from harsh childhoods in early family formation with young adult men. There is a high correlation between poverty rates and teenage birth, AIDS, and STD rates. Schools are not able to produce magical solutions to teenage pregnancy when adult lawmakers abnegate their responsibility to provide for youth well-being. Adolescent pregnancy will occur regardless of the expansion of curative programs such as school-based clinics; fundamental changes in assumptions, attitudes, and policies are needed. Beneficial aspects of programming appear to be fact-based sexuality and contraceptive education, counseling and referrals for youths with histories of child abuse, and child care classes and flexible school schedules for parenting students. A statistical profile in California indicates that 85% of all fathers of babies born to girls between ages of 11 and 18 years were adults. More than 50% of mothers aged 11-15 years were impregnated by adult men. Fathers' average age for births among junior high school mothers was 15-26 years, when the youngest and the oldest 2.5% of fathers are eliminated. There is a greater likelihood that a man older than 23 years will impregnate a junior high girl than will a junior high boy. The partner age gap is greatest among the very young girls. The California profile of father's age is similar to birth patterns in other states and similar to the national average. An examination of STDs shows a higher rate of STDs among females younger than 20. AIDS cases and HIV infections also appear higher among girls ages 13-19 years. The patterns indicate that teenage female STDs are likely to have been acquired by contact with older men by rape or voluntary intercourse. Fathering in abortion cases is not well documented. The predominate neglect of the role of adult-teen intercourse is a major omission. Teenage sex behavior for births, abortion, and STDs is often controlled by the behavior of adult partners.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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