Although the rate of teen pregnancy in the United States has declined greatly within the past few years, it is still an enormous problem that needs to be taken into consideration. These rates are still higher in the 1990's than they were only a decade ago. The United States" teenage birthrate exceeds that of most other industrialized nations, even though American teenagers are no more sexually active than teenagers in Canada or Europe (Gormly, 1997). Recent statistics concerning the teen birthrates are alarming. About 56,000 teenage girls give birth each year. Almost one-sixth of all births in the United States result from unintended pregnancies (Gormly, 1997). By the age of eighteen, one out of four teenage girls will have become pregnant (Neman et al, 1997).
Although the onset of pregnancy may occur in any teenager, some teens are at higher risk for unplanned pregnancy than others. Teenagers who become sexually active at a younger age are at a greater risk primarily because young teens are less likely to use birth control. African-American and Hispanic teenagers are twice as likely to give birth as are white teenagers. Whites are more likely to have abortions. Teenagers who come from poor neighborhoods and attend segregated schools are at a high risk for pregnancy. Also teenagers who are doing poorly in school and have few plans for the future are more likely to become parents than those who are doing well and have high education and occupational expectations. Although the rate of teenage pregnancy is higher among low-income African-Americans and Hispanics, especially those in inner .
city ghettoes, the number of births to teenagers is highest among white, non-poor young women who live in small cities and towns (Calhoun, 1995). .
In addition to the question of which teenagers become pregnant, interest is shown in the social consequences of early parenthood. Adolescent parents (mostly mothers) may find that they have a "lost or limited opportunity for education (Johnson, 1995).