What Can We Learn About Teen Pregnancy from Rural Adolescents?

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1 What Can We Learn About Teen Pregnancy from Rural Adolescents? Josie A. Weiss, PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP Associate Professor Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing Florida Atlantic University

2 Objectives of Presentation 1. Discuss the perspectives of rural adolescents regarding the prevalence, causes, consequences, and suggestions to prevent rural teen pregnancy. 2. Develop an appreciation of the perspectives of rural teens in understanding the high rates of rural teen pregnancy.

3 Purpose/Target Audience The purpose of this presentation is to share the perspectives of rural teens regarding teen pregnancy in their community. The target audience is persons interested in examining teen pregnancy from the perspective of rural adolescents.

4 Significance The US has the highest teen pregnancy and birth rates of all industrialized nations and these rates are increasing. Teen pregnancy and birth rates are higher in the Southeastern US, particularly in rural communities. Teen pregnancy is an important public health concern often resulting in hardships for teen mothers, infants, communities, and society.

5 Significance Teen mothers are more likely to experience pregnancy and birth complications. Children born to teen mothers are more likely to be premature and under-weight, increasing their risks for hyperactivity, blindness, deafness, chronic respiratory problems, infant death, and mental retardation. Rates of abuse and neglect are higher for children of teen mothers.

6 Significance Children born to teen mothers are 50% more likely to repeat a grade in school, perform lower on standardized tests, and less likely to complete high school. Sons of teen mothers are 13% more likely to go to prison. Daughters of teen mothers are more likely to become teen parents too.

7 Research Purpose In preparation for state examinations, 125 rural high school students were asked by their teachers to write essays in response to the question, Is teen pregnancy a problem in our community? These essays were analyzed to better understand the perspectives of high school students in order to create more effective interventions to decrease the high teen pregnancy rates of rural teens.

8 Methodology Essays written by 125 rural 10 th grade students were transcribed for analysis. Initially data were analyzed quantitatively to compare responses between males and females and within each group. Using the MAX Qualitative Data Analysis program, each essay was coded line by line with colors and then text. Data were compared and contrasted within each essay and among all essays to develop themes and sub-themes.

9 Results Nearly 66% of the participants wrote about the prevalence of pregnancy in their peers and school. Everywhere I look in high school, either someone is pregnant or has had a kid. I do have a few friends that are or have been pregnant.

10 Results Discussion of Teen Pregnancy Prevalence Boys (N) Boys percent Girls (N) Girls percent Total (N) Total percent Prevalence Discussed % 62 86% %

11 Results Discussion of Teen Pregnancy Prevalence Boys (N) Boys percent Girls (N) Girls percent Total (N) Total percent Prevalence Discussed % 62 86% %

12 Results While 62% of the participants believed teen pregnancy was bad or wrong, more than 37% were either ambivalent about teen pregnancy or felt that it was good or okay.

13 Results Respondents Opinions About Teen Pregnancy Boys (N) Boys percent Girls (N) Girls percent Total (N) Total percent Bad, wrong, stupid % % % Ambivalent % % % Good, right, OK % % 8 6.4% Total % % %

14 Results Respondents Opinions About Teen Pregnancy Boys (N) Boys percent Girls (N) Girls percent Total (N) Total percent Bad, wrong, stupid % % % Ambivalent % % % Good, right, OK % % 8 6.4% Total % % %

15 Results According to these students, the most significant outcomes of teen pregnancy are negative consequences to Teens Infants born to teens Parents of pregnant or parenting teens

16 Results Teen consequences: Disruption of school Usually the parents quit school because they have to get a job to support the baby. Then they don t graduate so they can t get a good job.

17 Results Teen consequences: Compromise of future success People don t realize how a baby can ruin your plans for a future.

18 Results Teen consequences: Losses, most importantly, desertion by the infant s father The girls are in the house all day being boring while guys are still having fun and doing another girl. (Male comment) The girls that get pregnant most likely will lose the baby s father because the male is scared or is lazy and doesn t want to be tied down. (Female comment)

19 Results Consequences to infants It s not fair to the baby to bring it into this world if you can t provide for it. A child being raised by another child is never a good thing.

20 Results The causes of teen pregnancy are: the irresponsibility of teens, accidents, intentional, and due to the rural environment in which they live. I find teen pregnancy to be irresponsible, stupid and disgusting. (Female comment) Some students feel sex is the only thing to do in this small town. (Female comment)

21 Results The causes of teen pregnancy are: the irresponsibility of teens, accidents, intentional, and due to the rural environment in which they live. I know some girls that want babies, just so they have somebody to love them. (Female comment) Kids are doing it on purpose. (Male comment) Accidents happen, I understand that. (Female comment)

22 Results The participants gave recommendations for preventing teen pregnancy that were both outsider focused and teen focused

23 Results Outsider focused prevention: Greater parental influence More sex education and communication about sexual issues Increased accessibility of birth control (condoms, contraceptives) More activities in their rural community.

24 Results Teen focused prevention: Greater teen responsibility Increased contraception use or protection More focus on school and the future rather than having sex and/or babies, Teens should wait to have sex and/or children

25 Conclusions Teens have significant insight about teen pregnancy causes, consequences and means of prevention. These results suggest that the prevalence of teen pregnancy could lead non-pregnant teens to view teen pregnancy in positive ways. Normalizing teen pregnancy by adolescents could contribute to the rising rates of rural teen pregnancy.

26 So What?? Are adolescents viewing teen pregnancy more positively? Are teens normalizing early pregnancy? A recent large study indicated that, of sexually experienced teens, 22% of the females and 24% of the males would be a little pleased or very pleased if they got pregnant or fathered a child (Abma, Martinez & Copen, 2010). Abma JC, Martinez GM, Copen CE. (2010). Teenagers in the United States: Sexual activity, contraceptive use, and childbearing, National Survey of Family Growth National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Statistics 23 (30).

27 Is Teen Pregnancy Being Glamorized?

28 Pregnant & Mothering Peers

29 Pregnant Celebrities

30 Pregnant Teen Celebrities

31 Pregnant Celebrities

32 Even Barbie s Pregnant

33 Is Pregnancy a Media Norm?

34 Is Pregnancy a Media Norm?

35 What is the Result? Some teens want to be pregnant Teens see only a part of the picture the benefits of teen pregnancy seem to outweigh the costs Some programs designed to support pregnant teens and keep them in school, actually increase rather than decrease teen pregnancy rates. Teen pregnancy seems normal to some teens

36 The Part They Don t See Teen mothers are: More likely to have pregnancy and birth complications Much less likely to graduate from high school and attend college (2/3 of teens who have babies do not finish high school) Much more likely to live in poverty More likely to have their children placed in foster care Teen pregnancy costs the US $7 billion

37 Babies are so cute, but They need care, food, clothing, time, and a secure, nurturing place to live.

38 Teens Don t Realize That Infants born to teen mothers are more likely to be: Premature and under-weight, increasing their risks for hyperactivity, blindness, deafness, chronic respiratory problems, infant death, and mental retardation Abused or neglected 50% more likely to repeat a grade in school, perform lower on standardized tests, and they are less likely to complete high school Sons of teen mothers are 13% more likely to go to prison and daughters are more likely to become teen mothers

39 What Can We Do? Discuss the costs and benefits of teen pregnancy with adolescents and their parents. Encourage abstinence, but if sexually active promote safe sexual practices; provide birth control methods Encourage teens to plan for their future success and delay pregnancy until they have achieved the success they desire

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