TEENAGE PREGNANCY: RISK-TAKING, CONTRACEPTIVE USE AND RISK FACTORS

Postgraduate

Abstract

Five interviews with professionals working directly with the youth, specifically involved in intervention where sexuality is addressed, were conducted and formed part of a qualitative study.  Interviews were conducted according to a semi-structured interview guide.  The duration of the interviews was between 1 and 1.5 hours each, and professional experience of interviewees ranged between 2 and 35 years.  

 

The aim of the study was to identify reasons for teenage pregnancy, as well as to examine existing services available to the youth with regards to sexuality.  Participants were asked questions pertaining to the following themes related to teenage sexuality: The existence of resources, the accessibility of resources, the ability of teenagers to effectively utilize services within their current developmental phase, risk-taking behavior of teenagers and challenges faced in the system and in general.

 

Analysis took the form of meaning categorization, as responses were clustered into specific categories for analysis.  Similarities as well as differences between responses were explored.

 

Sexual activity amongst teenagers is seen as a normal part of development.  Results indicate that resources are relatively accessible to teenagers despite a lack of manpower, although it was noted that there is much room for improvement in the education system with regards to sexuality education.  Youths with negative psychosocial circumstances were reported to be more vulnerable to risky sexual behavior, and negative risk-taking with or without contraceptives were found to be a common occurrence amongst teenagers.  Some girls engage in risky sexual activity in an effort to prove their fertility, while others become pregnant as a result of continued risktaking that previously cultivated no consequences.

Introduction 


Teenage pregnancy has long been viewed as a social problem affecting most societies Benson, 2005).

 

In a study conducted by Dryfoos and Heisler in 1978, it was mentioned that in several years prior to 1978, over one million unintended pregnancies occurred in the United States in each respective year.  In a later study conducted in 2000 by Hacker, Amare, Strunk and Horst, the statistics were no different, thus indicating little change in the occurrence of teenage pregnancy.  Despite efforts to curb the high rates of teenage pregnancy all over the world, the phenomenon prevails and it is important to understand why teenage pregnancies continue to occur at such high rates, in order to formulate some form of effective intervention program to deal with the problem.  

 

The basis for the concern of the researcher with teenage pregnancy rates in Sweden, despite rather extensive resources to prevent pregnancy, was initiated by the relatively high teenage abortion rates.  Statistics suggest that teenagers in Sweden generally commence engagement in sexual activity at a young age, and thus the risk for teenage pregnancy is relatively high.  In a study conducted by Edgardh in 2002, it was noted that 47 percent of boys and 31 percent of girls had had sexual experience by age 16.  Whilst the researcher was acquainted with the fact that teenage pregnancies in Sweden occur at rather low rates in comparison to most other countries in the world, the question of interest arose from the thought that the possibility of a discrepancy between realistic service delivery and the daily functioning of adolescents may exist.  The motivation for this study was therefore derived from an interest in the discrepancy between service delivery and the ability of teenagers to apply information provided to them by service providers with regard to healthy sexual functioning.