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Adolescents at RiskPrevalence and Prevention$
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Joy G. Dryfoos

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780195072686

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195072686.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 19 October 2021

Prevalence of Adolescent Pregnancy

Prevalence of Adolescent Pregnancy

(p.61) 5 Prevalence of Adolescent Pregnancy
Adolescents at Risk

Joy G. Dryfoos

Oxford University Press

Once a young person experiences coitus, she or he acquires “risk status.” Unquestionably, young people who are not sexually active are not at risk of pregnancy, unless they are forced to have sex (which is not a rare event). However, once the decision is made to initiate sexual activity, risk of pregnancy is high for those who do not use contraception consistently. And since no contraception is 100 percent effective, an unplanned pregnancy may occur. Once pregnant, a young woman must decide whether to carry the pregnancy to term. She may decide to have an abortion, if that option is available to her. If a child is born, the mother may decide to give the child up for adoption. While this series of decisions seems relatively straightforward, there is little consensus in our society about how to intervene at any point along the way and prevent the negative consequences. Differing perceptions of the problem shape the range of solutions. One set of conflicts centers on the morality of premarital sex. Some people believe that the only response to the issue of adolescent pregnancy is to promote abstention. Others believe that premarital sexual activity has become a normative behavior and, therefore, interventions should focus on teaching responsible sexual behavior and providing access to contraception. A second set of conflicts is focused on the abortion issue. Once pregnant, should a girl be required to maintain the pregnancy and encouraged to put the baby up for adoption if she cannot care for it, or should she be assisted to obtain an abortion if that is what she wants? We can turn to many sources of data to gain insights into these questions. The problem of adolescent pregnancy has received a great deal of attention over the past decade and numerous studies have been produced from which we can learn about the antecedents, prevalence, and consequences of early sexual activity, contraceptive use, and pregnancy among teenagers.

Keywords:   Abortion, Birth rate, Childbearing, Diaphragm use, Fertility, Incest, Male sexual activity, Oral contraceptives, Pregnancy rates, Rape

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