Early adolescent childbearing: some social implications

by Marie B. Hoeppner

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Reviews current research findings on teenage pregnancies that indicate illegitimacy may be increasingly concentrated in the teenage years, and discusses the implications for mothers, children, and society. Adolescents who are sexually active are active at younger ages now than in the past and are less likely to be aware of pregnancy risks than older teenagers. They are misinformed about ways to prevent pregnancy and have more difficulty obtaining contraceptive information. Earlier sexual behavior, noncontraception, desire to have a child, and earlier age of menarche are considered as determinants of the rise in illegitimate births among teenagers. More adolescent mothers (whites more so than blacks) are choosing to keep their babies and are rejecting adoption, abortion, or marriage as alternatives to single parenthood. Three policy options are considered: (1) more sex education programs and contraceptive services, particularly for younger teenagers; (2) facilitating better communication between parents and children; and (3) providing information about the advisability of adoption to pregnant adolescents.

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