15 APRIL 2009
Although we have seen a decrease in teen pregnancies in North America over the past decade, adolescent pregnancy rates and adolescents becoming parents continue to be significant social issues (Fraser & Meares-Allen, 2004, p. 398). Research findings (ibid) from the U.S. show that about one million teenagers become pregnant each year and almost one half actually give birth and become parents. While the overall numbers are significantly less in Canada, the proportion of teenage parents within the general population is probably about the same.
The available research suggests that an adolescentís social environment, including family, school, peers and community, contains the key factors that contribute to the rates of adolescent pregnancy. For example, adolescents who come from single parent families, or where they have been sexually abused, are at higher risk of becoming pregnant because they tend to be sexually active at a younger age (Fraser & Meares-Allen, 2004). This also applies to adolescents from lower socioeconomic groups, which in itself, is significantly linked to early childbearing (Akinbami, Cheng, & Kornfeld, 2001) as well as adolescents who have only one parent to provide them with guidance, emotional support and monitoring (Fraser, & Meares- Allen, 2004).
Other key factors include whether the adolescentís peer group is sexually active, and even more importantly, whether they are involved with alcohol and drugs. These conditions contribute to the incidence of adolescent pregnancy by increasing the likelihood of sexual promiscuity, the choice of poor and multiple partners and the failure to use effective forms of contraception. (Fraser, & Meares-Allen, 2004).
These factors all impact the adolescentís development and therefore must be considered when intervention strategies and public policies for adolescent parents are being developed and implemented. Not only must Child and Youth Care practitioners help adolescent parents with their developmental needs; they must also help them to meet the developmental needs of their children.
Teague, K. (2005)
Adolescent Parents. Relational Child and Youth Care Practice,18,
3. pp. 27-32.
Akinbami, L.J., Cheng, Y.I. and Kornfield, D. (2001). A review of teen-tot programs: Comprehensive clinical care for young parents and their children. Adolescence, 36, 142. pp. 1-12.
Fraser, W.M. and Meares-Allen, P. (2004). Intervention with children and adolescents: An interdisciplinary perspective. USA. Pearson Education Inc.