Motherhood Makes Teens More Responsible

Study finds they're less likely to take part in delinquent activities

FRIDAY, Dec. 5, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Motherhood may steer teens away from delinquent behavior, says research in the new issue of The Sociological Quarterly.

The study of nearly 7,000 girls found unmarried adolescent mothers who keep their babies had lower rates of juvenile delinquency than their peers who give their babies up for adoption or have abortions.

"The transition to parenthood, unlike other types of pregnancy resolution, encourages adolescent females to assume a more responsible adult role that is ultimately incongruent with delinquent activity," researcher Esther I. Wilder, of Lehman College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, says in a prepared statement.

She and her colleagues examined data on 6,877 girls who were part of a nationwide survey of teens in grades 7 through 12. About 9 percent of the 6,877 had gotten pregnant. Of those, girls who had abortions or gave up their babies for adoption had the highest rates of juvenile delinquency, such as drinking alcohol or taking part in petty criminal activity.

But the rates of juvenile delinquency for girls who kept their babies were no higher than girls who didn't get pregnant.

Overall, the study found teens who live with both parents have lower rates of delinquency. It also found little connection between receiving welfare and delinquency among young girls. But girls who became pregnant were more likely to come from homes where at least one parent received welfare or one parent was absent.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about teen pregnancy.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, Dec. 5, 2003
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