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Helping Teen Mothers


Because teen pregnancies occur despite the best prevention efforts, the second goal of a harm reduction approach is to help teens during their pregnancy and after childbirth. This strategy has the immediate aim of providing practical and emotional support for these very young mothers; it also has the longer-term aims of reducing repeat pregnancies and births and of preventing developmental and behavior problems among their children.

To achieve these aims, ECI programs have again been shown to be helpful (Ball & Moore, 2008). [19] Another type of program to help teen mothers involves the use of second-chance homes, which are maternity group homes for unmarried teen mothers (Andrews & Moore, 2011). [20] One of the many sad facts of teenage motherhood is that teen mothers often have nowhere to live. A teen mother’s parent(s) may refuse to let her and her infant live with them, either because they are angry at her pregnancy or because they simply do not have the room or financial means to house and take care of a baby. Or a pregnant teen may decide to leave her parents’ home because of the parents’ anger or because they refuse to let her continue seeing the child’s father. In another possibility, a teen mother may begin living with the father, but these unions are typically unstable and often end, again leaving her and her child without a home. As well, many teen mothers were runaways from home before they became pregnant or were living in foster care. Because of all these situations, many teen mothers find themselves without a place to live.



Second-chance homes provide many kinds of services for pregnant teenagers and teen mothers, many of whom are unable to continue living with their own parents.http://images.flatworldknowledge.com/barkansoc/barkansoc-fig09_x005.jpg

Image Courtesy of Polina Sergeeva, http://www.flickr.com/photos/polinasergeeva/3020746873/.
In second-chance homes (which, depending on the program, are in reality one large house, a set of apartments, or a network of houses), mothers and children (as well as pregnant teens) receive shelter and food, but they also receive important services, such as childrearing help, educational and vocational counseling and training, family planning counseling, and parenting classes. Although rigorous evaluation studies do not yet exist of the effectiveness of second-chance homes, they do seem to offer a valuable resource for teen mothers and their children (Andrews & Moore, 2011). [21]

Addressing Poverty


A final strategy for addressing the problem of teenage sex and pregnancy is to address a more general societal condition that helps produce teenage sex and pregnancy. This condition is poverty. As noted earlier, children who grow up in poor families and in disadvantaged neighborhoods—those with high rates of poverty, unemployment, high school dropouts, and so forth—are more likely to have sex earlier as teens and to become pregnant (Harding, 2003; Scott, Steward-Streng, Barry, & Manlove, 2011). [22] Efforts that reduce poverty (see Chapter 2 "Poverty") and improve the conditions of disadvantaged neighborhoods will also reduce the collateral effects of poverty, including teenage pregnancy.

KEY TAKEAWAYS


  • The United States has the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and birth of all Western democracies. However, these rates have declined substantially from the early 1990s.

  • Pregnancies and births among teenagers incur higher health-care costs than those among older women. In addition, children of teenage mothers are at risk for several kinds of developmental, cognitive, and behavioral problems.

  • A key strategy to reduce teenage pregnancies involves the provision and use of effective contraception at little or no cost. A key strategy to help teen mothers and their children involves second-chance homes and early childhood intervention programs.



FOR YOUR REVIEW


  1. Imagine that you became a parent at age 17. How would your life have been different from what it is now?

  2. Many sexually active teenagers do not use contraception regularly. Why do you think they do not use it more often?

[1] Martinez, G., Copen, C. E., & Abma, J. C. (2011). Teenagers in the United States: Sexual activity, contraceptive use, and childbearing, 2006–2010 national survey of family growth.Vital and Health Statistics, 23(31), 1–35.

[2] National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. (2011). National data. Retrieved October 12, 2011, from http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/national-data/default.aspx.

[3] Gold, R. B. (2011). Wise investment: Reducing the steep cost to Medicaid of unintended pregnancy in the United States. Guttmacher Policy Review, 14(3), 6–10.

[4] Kost, K., Henshaw, S., & Carlin, L. (2010). US teenage pregnancies, births and abortions: National and state trends and trends by race and ethnicity, 2010. New York, NY: Guttmacher Institute.

[5] Perper, K., & Manlove, J. (2009). Estimated percentage of females who will become teen mothers: Differences across states. Washington, DC: Child Trends.

[6] American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2011). Having a baby. Retrieved October 12, 2011, from http://www.acog.org/publications/faq/faq103.cfm#10; Anderson, T. L. (2011). Sex, drugs, and death: Addressing youth problems in American society. New York: Routledge.

[7] Andrews, K. M., & Moore, K. A. (2011). Second chance homes: A resource for teen mothers. Retrieved October 15, 2011, fromhttp://www.childtrends.org/Files//Child_Trends-2011_04_15_RB_2ndChanceHomes.pdf.

[8] Andrews, K. M., & Moore, K. A. (2011). Second chance homes: A resource for teen mothers. Retrieved October 15, 2011, fromhttp://www.childtrends.org/Files//Child_Trends-2011_04_15_RB_2ndChanceHomes.pdf; Hoffman, S. D., & Maynard, R. A. (Eds.). (2008). Kids having kids: Costs and social consequences of teen pregnancy (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.

[9] Kost, K., Henshaw, S., & Carlin, L. (2010). US teenage pregnancies, births and abortions: National and state trends and trends by race and ethnicity, 2010. New York, NY: Guttmacher Institute.

[10] Kost, K., Henshaw, S., & Carlin, L. (2010). US teenage pregnancies, births and abortions: National and state trends and trends by race and ethnicity, 2010. New York, NY: Guttmacher Institute.

[11] Wildsmith, E., Schelar, E., Peterson, K., & Manlove, J. (2010). Sexually transmitted diseases among young adults: Prevalence, perceived risk, and risk-taking behavior. Retrieved October 15, 2011, from http://www.childtrends.org/Files//Child_Trends-2010_05_01_RB_STD.pdf.

[12] Wildsmith, E., Schelar, E., Peterson, K., & Manlove, J. (2010). Sexually transmitted diseases among young adults: Prevalence, perceived risk, and risk-taking behavior. Retrieved October 15, 2011, from http://www.childtrends.org/Files//Child_Trends-2010_05_01_RB_STD.pdf.

[13] Wildsmith, E., Schelar, E., Peterson, K., & Manlove, J. (2010). Sexually transmitted diseases among young adults: Prevalence, perceived risk, and risk-taking behavior. Retrieved October 15, 2011, from http://www.childtrends.org/Files//Child_Trends-2010_05_01_RB_STD.pdf.

[14] Ball, V., & Moore, K. A. (2008). What works for adolescent reproductive health: Lessons from experimental evaluations of programs and interventions. Retrieved October 14, 2011, from http://www.childtrends.org/Files/Child_Trends-2008_05_20_FS_WhatWorksRepro.pdf.

[15] Kristof, N. D. (2011, November 3). The birth control solution. New York Times, p. A31.

[16] Gold, R. B. (2011). Wise investment: Reducing the steep cost to Medicaid of unintended pregnancy in the United States. Guttmacher Policy Review, 14(3), 6–10.

[17] Kahn, J., & Moore, K. A. (2010). What works for home visiting programs: Lessons from experimental evaluations of programs and interventions. Retrieved October 16, 2011, fromhttp://www.childtrends.org/Files//Child_Trends-2010_7_1_FS_WWHomeVisitpdf.pdf.

[18] Ball, V., & Moore, K. A. (2008). What works for adolescent reproductive health: Lessons from experimental evaluations of programs and interventions. Retrieved October 14, 2011, from http://www.childtrends.org/Files/Child_Trends-2008_05_20_FS_WhatWorksRepro.pdf.

[19] Ball, V., & Moore, K. A. (2008). What works for adolescent reproductive health: Lessons from experimental evaluations of programs and interventions. Retrieved October 14, 2011, from http://www.childtrends.org/Files/Child_Trends-2008_05_20_FS_WhatWorksRepro.pdf.

[20] Andrews, K. M., & Moore, K. A. (2011). Second chance homes: A resource for teen mothers. Retrieved October 15, 2011, fromhttp://www.childtrends.org/Files//Child_Trends-2011_04_15_RB_2ndChanceHomes.pdf.

[21] Andrews, K. M., & Moore, K. A. (2011). Second chance homes: A resource for teen mothers. Retrieved October 15, 2011, fromhttp://www.childtrends.org/Files//Child_Trends-2011_04_15_RB_2ndChanceHomes.pdf.

[22] Harding, D. J. (2003). Counterfactual models of neighborhood effects: The effect of neighborhood poverty on dropping out and teenage pregnancy. American Journal of Sociology, 109(3), 676–719; Scott, M. E., Steward-Streng, N. R., Barry, M. C., & Manlove, J. (2011, March). Neighborhood, family and school environments: Associations with the timing of adolescent first sex. Paper presented at the Population Association of America, Washington, DC.


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