Thesis

Characteristics of young pregnant adolescent girls

The rate of unmarried teenage pregnancy in the u.s. is increasing (over one million each year) despite efforts by educators and other helping professionals to curtail this trend. This study examines the major health and social issues of teenage pregnancy by identifying and describing the "shared characteristics" of a small target population. Specific methodological steps were carried out to achieve this study's goals. Initially, a review of the literature from three major areas was carried out. In order to elicit appropriate data, interviews with 14 pregnant adolescents were then conducted. To help present the results, five vignettes were created. The major findings generated from this study tend to indicate that the subjects' "shared characteristics" are numerous. A composite portrait reveals a 15 year old, unmarried, hispanic, ninth-grader who is pregnant for the first time. She comes from a single-parent working/lower middle class home with no male father figure present. Although she had attended a health/sex education class prior to her pregnancy, she fails to fully comprehend how pregnancy is successfully prevented. Sexual desire was not a motivator for her when she became sexually active. Instead, she seems to possess inadequate assertive skills/self-esteem to prevent her partner from "pushing" her into "sex" with him. She states that her pregnancy was accidental, and once pregnant, expresses that it, the pregnancy, raised her status to adulthood within her family. The recommendations in this study identified and focus on the need to redesign sex education curriculum to fit the perceived needs of this population. One innovative example that is offered is to incorporate these teens' peers, who are teen mothers, as share teachers.

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