29 August 2012

South Africa: Factors Associated With Teenage Pregnancy in South Africa


The problems of teenage pregnancy arise from individual, familial and societal factors, including, but not limited to, culture, religion, moral values and beliefs, education and economic circumstances, and a lack of support structures.

Life circumstances that place girls at higher risk of teenage pregnancy include poverty, poor school performance, a family history of teenage pregnancy, and partner age, coupled with trade-offs between health and economic security often negotiated by young women. Other contributory risk factors include early sexual debut, ignorance, curiosity, peer pressure, gender-based violence, power imbalances in sexual relationships and family conflict.

Survey studies often exclude details on perceptions and attitudes of the teenagers experiencing pregnancy. This study acknowledges this limitation and employs multiple research paradigms to take into account varying localities as well as perceptions and attitudes of various social groupings. Research findings for samples in five provinces (Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal) are presented in this paper.

Through use of survey questionnaires with teenage mothers and health care service providers, focus group discussions with school-going boys and girls, as well as family and community members, the research aims at finding answers to the 'why' questions on the factors associated with teenage pregnancy and its implications for the individual, family and society.

This is an abstract of a paper prepared for Towards Carnegie III, a major conference aimed at devising strategies to overcome poverty and inequality. Neloufar Khan is from the Department of Social Development, South Africa.

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