Differences in Adolescent Self-Concept as a Function of Race, Geographic Location, and Pregnancy
Pete-McGadney, Joanette, Adolescence
Extent of the Problem
Adolescent pregnancy is widely recognized in our society as one of the most complex and serious health problems. Each year over 600,000 adolescent girls become parents (National Research Council, 1987). Part of the reason for the high rate of teenage pregnancy is that adolescents are becoming sexually active at younger ages; each year almost 30,000 of teenage parents are under the age of 15 (Trussell, 1988).
Within this group there is a disproportionately high number of African-American teenage parents. African-American adolescents account for 14% of the teenage population, but they account for 28% of all births and 47% of all births to unmarried teenagers (Edelman & Pittman, 1986; Height, 1986). Further, the prospects for a healthy and productive life are drastically reduced for these parents and their infants. Typically, the teenage mother is at risk of undergoing a complicated pregnancy and poor birth outcome. The children of these mothers also face greater health and developmental risks.
The unprecedented rise in adolescent pregnancies over the past decade has brought to the forefront health care providers, educators, and public policy makers. Since there is no single approach or quick fix for all the problems of adolescent pregnancy, comprehensive studies are needed - studies which identify contributing factors that are common among individuals, families, and communities. In addition, solutions that promote positive social, economic, health, and developmental outcomes for adolescent parents and their children must be sought.
Review of the Literature
Basically, self-concept is a psychological dimension that tells how good we feel about ourselves. It is a crucial factor in determining the nature of human behavior (Hayakawa, 1963) that is solidified in adolescence (Neel, Jay, & Litt, 1985). Self-concept has been shown to be a relatively stable personality trait from adolescence onward (Offer, Ostrov, & Howard, 1981; Engel, 1959; Vaillant & McArthur, 1972).
Many sociocultural factors have important effects on individual development. Social status (as it is mediated by race, ethnicity, income, religion, and geographic residence) shapes cultural values which, in turn, affect the way individuals view themselves and are viewed by others. According to Chilman (1983), culture evolves from the life history and experiences of a group and the group's attempt, over time, to adapt to its environment. Elder (1980) also believes the developing individual is imbued with the values, norms, beliefs, and expectations of his or her social reference group.
Factors consistently found to be associated with …
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Publication information: Article title: Differences in Adolescent Self-Concept as a Function of Race, Geographic Location, and Pregnancy. Contributors: Pete-McGadney, Joanette - Author. Journal title: Adolescence. Volume: 30. Issue: 117 Publication date: Spring 1995. Page number: 95+. © 1999 Libra Publishers, Inc. COPYRIGHT 1995 Gale Group.
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