Pregnancy Among Middle and High School Girls Term Paper

Pages: 45 (12922 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Children

Pregnancy Rates and Educational Attainment among Middle-School and High-School girls

Purpose of the Action Research Project

Scope of the Action Research Project

Importance of the Action Research Project

Option Selection

Description of the Intervention

Description of Intervention

The Evaluation Plan

Evaluation Design

Limitations of the Evaluation Plan

Individual Impact

Long-term Educational Goals

Views on Marriage

Relationship between Current School Year and Graduation

Impact of Tutoring

Policy Recommendations

Recommendations for Further Research

Teen Mentor Training Sheet

Action Plan

First Week Status Report

Mentor's Assessment

Reflections on Action Research Project

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TOPIC: Term Paper on Pregnancy Among Middle and High School Girls Assignment

Teenage pregnancy is one of the most pressing social problems in the United States, and many southern counties are disproportionately affected by this social issue. One of the reasons that the issue of teen pregnancy has become such a major social issue is that it is an area rife with moral judgments, and society simply has not decided what type of interventions are appropriate to prevent teen pregnancy, even if some interventions have been proven to be successful. For example, some interventionists advocate sex education that focuses on birth control and pregnancy prevention. Other interventionists disagree, and believe that any sex education should focus only on abstinence. Surprisingly enough, both approaches, if done in an appropriate manner, have had their successes. In fact, the two approaches seem to have similar impacts on teen pregnancy rates, which means that, regardless of the pre-pregnancy interventions employed, practitioners can expect that some percentage of teenagers will continue to experience unplanned pregnancies. However, it also means that, if done appropriately, interventions can have a positive impact on the number of teenage pregnancies.

Furthermore, one must understand why teenage pregnancy is considered a social problem. In many societies around the world, it is neither undesirable nor unusual for a teenager to become pregnant. In fact, teenage pregnancy was the norm, rather than an aberration, for much of American history. However, teenage pregnancy today differs substantially from teenage pregnancy in the past, because the vast majority of pregnant teens are single mothers who do not marry their child's father. Single parenting leads to a variety of issues, because the mother is called upon to do all of the parenting and provide all of the financial support for her child. As a result, the teenage mother's education often becomes less of a priority.

Therefore, one must look beyond the absolute rate of teen pregnancy to understand the breadth and width of the social issues connected to teen pregnancy. For example, although teen pregnancy has experienced a general decline since the 1990s, there have been some troubling trends in teen pregnancy. For example, more and more teen pregnancies are occurring to single mothers, which is highly correlated with future issues. In addition, while the overall teen pregnancy rate is declining, there is a trend for more teenagers to become mothers at extremely young ages. Both issues have an impact on education, and teenage pregnancy is highly correlated with dropping out of secondary school.

Unfortunately, dropping out of school oftentimes leads to a variety of negative consequences for both the teenage mother and child. Teenage mothers who lack education are often trapped in low-pay, low-skill jobs. These jobs rarely provide medical benefits, paid time-off, or any of the other benefits associated with career-type work. In addition, the children suffer because they are trapped in a cycle of poverty. Lacking financial resources at home, the children of teenage parents are more likely to drop out of school before graduating in order to obtain money from low-paying jobs. Furthermore, these children may not receive adequate educational support from their parents because of a lack of academic ability.

Several social interventions have been aimed at decreasing the drop-out rate among pregnant teenagers and teenage parents. Some of these interventions have been moderately successful, while others have had no appreciable impact on the drop-out rate. However, even the successful interventions have had only partial success, because approximately half of all teenage parents eventually drop-out of secondary education prior to obtaining a degree. Some interventions are aimed at practical issues, such as the provision of childcare for mothers attending school. Other interventions are more esoteric, such as scholarship programs for teenage parents who excel in the high school environment. However, very few programs seem to acknowledge the reality that parents will miss more school than non-parents, and that interventions need to be in place to mitigate the effects of those increased absences.

Peer interventions have proven successful in other areas of at-risk behavior for teenagers. Therefore, this study examines whether peer interventions could be successful in helping teenage mothers stay in school. This peer intervention matched new mothers with a same-grade, academically advanced peer. The peer's role was to ensure that the teenage mother did not fall behind in her schoolwork. The peer was to act as a mentor, but also as a tutor, helping mothers tackle any educational difficulties as they occurred.

The study examined several different issues. The first issue that the study looked at was whether peer intervention had an impact on the pregnant mothers' attitudes towards education. The next variable that the study looked at was whether the mothers attended classes, and, if not, their reasons for missing classes. The third variable that the study looked at was the mother's early grades. Because attitude, absenteeism, and educational success are all predictive of whether or not a student will drop out of school, those three variables should help predict whether or not the mothers will drop out of school.

Although the study was limited in scope and duration, the initial results are promising. After only one week of peer intervention, more than half of the teenage mothers reported greater confidence that they would complete their educations. More significantly, with peer intervention, only one of the teenage mothers missed any portion of the first week of school, and that absence did not lead to any missed schoolwork or homework. None of the mothers engaged in the type of behavior that one typically associates with a high risk of dropping out of school. Although the sample size and study design meant that the results could not be characterized as statistically significant, they were promising enough to suggest that a future action research project investigate the impact of mentors on the three dimensions over the course of an entire semester or school year.

Chapter One: Description of the Problem

Purpose of the Action Research Project

The purpose of the action research project is to design and implement an intervention strategy targeted at reducing the secondary education drop-out rate among teenage mothers in two counties: Halifax County, North Carolina, and Brunswick County, Virginia. Because dropping out of secondary education, both high school and middle school, is linked to high rates of absenteeism, poor academic performance, and individual attitude towards education, the peer intervention program was aimed at changing those three variables in recently post-partum teenage mothers. The peer intervention program sought to change those variables by giving each teenage mother a peer mentor with whom they had constant contact, and whom they knew could contact school counselors or the researchers on behalf of the teenage mother. The hope was that the constant interaction between the teenage mother and the mentor would reduce the teenage mothers' incidence of dropping-out related risk factors, by providing accountability for absences, tutoring to boost academic performance, and help improve the mothers' attitude towards education.

Setting of the Problem

Although there has been a general nationwide decline in the absolute rates of teenage pregnancy in the United States, this decline has not been universal. In addition, researchers do not know why the overall pregnancy rate has declined, and fear that the decline is temporary and will not be replicated. Therefore, teenage pregnancy is still considered a serious social problem, and it is being viewed as a problem in areas that previously did not have substantial issues due to teenage pregnancy. In both Halifax County, North Carolina, and Brunswick County, Virginia, teenage pregnancy is viewed as an emerging social problem. For example, "Halifax County is ranked fifth in the number of teen pregnancies for ages fifteen to nineteen. North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported a rate of 98.1 for Halifax County compared to the North Carolina average of 64.1." (Smith et al., 2006). Unlike Halifax County, Brunswick County does not have an abnormally high teen-pregnancy rate; in fact, its overall teenage pregnancy rate is no higher than the average teenage pregnancy rate in Virginia. However, Brunswick County does have an alarmingly high rate of very early teenage pregnancies:.4% of its girls between 10 and 14 years of age were mothers, compared to a state-wide rate of.11% of girls in that same age category. (Virginia Department of Health, 2006). Unlike their older counterparts, very young teenage mothers lack the legal ability to support themselves or their child, and may be unduly subject to family pressure regarding childbearing and child raising decisions. On a related note, there may be a high correlation… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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