Alienation Raises Teen Pregnancy Risks
Teens Who Don't Like School Are More Likely to Become Teenage Parents
Nov. 4, 2003 -- Teenagers who feel alienated from school or
their friends may be more likely to become teen parents. But it's not because
they don't know about the risks of teen pregnancy.
A new study suggests that despite having adequate knowledge
about sexual issues and contraception, teens who dislike school are more likely
than those who like school to have sex and expect sexual intercourse before
they're 16 years old and expect to become parents by the time they're 20.
Researchers say the findings suggest that teenagers who don't
like school may be more likely to view teenage pregnancy as inevitable or a
positive alternative to continuing education or a career.
Teen Alienation Raises Pregnancy Risks
Researchers surveyed more than 8,000 13- and 14-year old
students in England about their sexual knowledge, attitudes and behavior, and
views on school and sex education. The majority of the students in the survey
described themselves as white.
The results appear in the November issue of the Journal of
Epidemiology and Community Health.
They found that 23% of boys and 15% of girls said they disliked
or strongly disliked school and about a quarter of the students were from
socioeconomically disadvantaged households. Although only about 7% of the
students both disliked school and were socioeconomically disadvantaged, more
than 34% fit into one of the two categories.
Researchers found that dislike of school and socioeconomic
disadvantage increased the risk of teen pregnancy in different ways.
For example, poorer teens were more likely to have poor
knowledge about sex and contraception, have a negative or ambivalent attitude
about condom use, believe that their peers were already having sex, and expect
to be parents by age 20.
In contrast, the teens who disliked school were more likely to
have sexual intercourse, expect to have intercourse by the time they were 16,
and expect to become parents by the time they were 20 compared with those who
liked school, even though they had comparable knowledge about sexual
"Socially excluded young people may be more likely to
become pregnant as teenagers not because of knowledge or confidence deficits
but because their alienation from school and more general social exclusion
results in their adopting fatalistic or positive attitudes to parenthood in
their teenage years," write researcher C.P. Bonell of the University of
London, and colleagues.
"For some young people, having a baby may, in this context,
represent a positive and achievable goal."