Psychosocial and Cultural Contributing Factors of Teen Pregnancy in North America

Psychosocial and Cultural Contributing Factors of Teen Pregnancy in North America

Claude R. Shema (Cardiff University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6108-8.ch004
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Teen pregnancy is a concern not only for parents, but for the society and nation as well due to the numerous risks that come along with it. Teen pregnancy has been linked to deaths and other subsequent related psychological consequences, such as trauma and depression, as well as to socioeconomic issues such as financial hurdles and social isolation. So far, risk factors such as lack of sexual knowledge and reproductive health awareness have been associated with teen pregnancy. However, seldom considered factors like individual biological circumstances, such as early psychophysiological maturing, conduct issues, parenting deficit, or family instability and family dynamic can also be leading risk factors associated with teen pregnancy. This chapter explores the potential risk factors associated with teen pregnancy in North America (Canada, United States, and Mexico) from a biopsychological aspect, multi-ethnic, sociocultural, and economic diversity context. The chapter is a compilation of literature of possible risk factors associated with teenage pregnancy in North America.
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Teen pregnancy in North America, like anywhere else in the world, has numerous variables that can be traced through (a) biological, (b) psychological, and (c) sociocultural and economic variables (DeRidder, 1993). Despite commonality and similarity of risk factors across board, multicultural aspects and demographic diversity in North America, are key elements to understanding in-depth teen pregnancy etiology. Teen pregnancy in North America is a multi-factorial phenomenon, with various ecological factors, of social or environment influence, on macrosystem, mesosystem and microsystem as well (Corcoran, Franklin & Bennett, 2000). Moreover, evidence suggests that parenting, race, socioeconomic status, educational background of both parents and teenagers, are intrinsically associated with teen pregnancy across the board (Corcoran et al., 2000, p.19).

Nevertheless, irrespective of the above-mentioned factors, the influences on macrosystem, mesosystem and microsystem are only relevant, when associated with early conduct problems (Woodward et al., 1999). From a psychopathological and developmental context, the cohort research conducted on 533 female sample group in New Zealand par example, Woodward and colleagues (1999) study results strongly suggest that, early conduct and behavioral issues, are strong precursors of five times higher risk of later teen pregnancy (Woodward et al., 1999, p. 127).

Although, scientific research on teen pregnancy has focused on the biological and economic factors, evidence also suggests that some social aspects such as peer pressure, increased violence [including sexual and dating violence], and instability, along with digital communication, evolving social media and uncontrolled internet (world-wide-web] access can also be considered as risk factors responsible for teen pregnancy (Gover, Jennings & Tewksbury, 2009). However, lack of statistics, poor to non-existing information from some regions and countries, impedes possibility of clear knowledge of this phenomenon (Gortzak-Uzan, Hallak, Press, Katz & Shoham-Vardi, 2001). Furthermore, with limited access to the rest of the world, such as in rural areas, with less to no connection to media attention, medical services, the situation could be even worse hypothetically (Dryburgh, 2000).

Beside psychosocial aspects, mental health issues have also been linked with the occurrence of teen pregnancy in North America (Laura et al., 2010). These mental health issues vary from biological and organic predisposing factors, to psychological risk factors, including cognition and decision making, developmental perspective and trajectory to bio-physiological maturity, and personality traits (Puri & Treasaden, 2010). Parenting is another factor responsible for teen pregnancy especially, in the context of sociocultural aspects such as religion, values and beliefs, and sexual behavior related education to children.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Indigenous: Fast nation population, characterized by distinct ancient culture, tradition, customs, and practice.

Risk Factors: Probable reason of cause or causes, often known as probable causing agent.

Perpetuating Factors: Interwoven persisting and or long-term conditions that interfere with intended positive change, transformation, or healing.

North America: Geographical area that encompasses 23 countries, including United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Aboriginals: First nation population before the arrival of colonial masters.

Latinas: Often Spanish language speaking population, originated from Latin America.

Teen Pregnancy: Underage childbearing, often undesired.

Predisposing Factors: Prior existing conditions leading to vulnerability.

Precipitating Factors: Dueling conditions or events that often worsening the situation and the context.

Psychophysiological: Phenomenology of interaction between brain, mind, and body.

Peer Pressure: Behavioral or decisional making based on social influence of other people.

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