A Journey toward Womanhood: Effects of an Afrocentric Approach to Pregnancy Prevention among African-American Adolescent Females

By Dixon, Angela Coleman; Schoonmaker, Christopher T. et al. | Adolescence, Fall 2000 | Go to article overview
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A Journey toward Womanhood: Effects of an Afrocentric Approach to Pregnancy Prevention among African-American Adolescent Females


Dixon, Angela Coleman, Schoonmaker, Christopher T., Philliber, William W., Adolescence


ABSTRACT

A Journey Toward Womanhood is an Afrocentric pregnancy prevention program for adolescent females developed by Sisterhood Agenda in Durham, North Carolina. In the present study, 33 past participants in the program were compared with 32 nonparticipants. Results suggested that the program had a positive impact, delaying the initiation of sexual intercourse, increasing contraceptive use among those who were having intercourse, and reducing the incidence of teen pregnancy.

Despite the fact that the pregnancy rate of teenagers in the United States has been declining, it remains twice that of other industrialized nations (Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1994). Among African-American teens, the rate is particularly high. In 1996, the pregnancy rate was 178.9 per thousand among African-American females aged 15 to 19 years, compared with a pregnancy rate of 82.6 among whites (Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1999).

The 1995 National Survey of Family Growth reported that African-American females aged 15 to 17 were more likely than their white counterparts to have had sexual intercourse since menarche (48% versus 34%, respectively). In addition, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (1997), African-American females aged 15 to 19 were more likely than their white peers to have had their first sexual experience (intercourse) without using effective contraception (24% versus 14%, respectively). As a result, African-American teenagers are more likely to experience a pregnancy.

Educational programs that use an Afrocentric approach appear to be effective in changing African-American teenagers' behavior. Among luncheon to honor parents and friends, budgeting, investing, saving money, and job hunting. Entrepreneurship and economic stability are encouraged, and teen pregnancy is discouraged.

A Journey Toward Womanhood ends with a graduation ceremony, with family and friends in attendance. Graduates make individual presentations related to the four principles of Sisterhood Agenda: sisterhood, self-knowledge, self-development, and self-esteem. Their achievements are reinforced through continuing participation in Sisters in Action, a monthly support group for those who have successfully completed the program.

METHOD

In the summer of 1998, 65 African-American females, aged 14 to 19 and living in low-income neighborhoods, were surveyed. Thirty-three had participated in A Journey Toward Womanhood (mean age = 16.0 years), while 32 had not (mean age = 16.3). The nonparticipants were clients of local social service agencies or friends of those who had participated in A Journey Toward Womanhood.

FINDINGS

Seven of the participants in A Journey Toward Womanhood (graduates) were sexually experienced at the time they began the program. Of the remaining 26 who had not had sexual intercourse before they began the program, only 24% had experienced intercourse by the time of the survey, but 69% of the nonparticipants reported having had sexual intercourse. The difference was statistically significant ([[chi].sup.2] = 11.24, p [less than] .001). (If participants who had initiated sexual intercourse before the program are included in the analysis, the figure increases from 24% to 39%, which is still significantly lower than the rate among nonparticipants.) These findings suggest that A Journey Toward Womanhood--which is grounded in the belief that, by instilling a sense of pride and self-determination, African-American females will be more likely to delay the initiation of sexual intercourse--is effective.

It appears that among participants and nonparticipants alike, those who had sexual intercourse did so willingly and not because they were forced. Among those who were sexually experienced, only 2 participants (15%) and 3 nonparticipants (14%) indicated that they had ever been forced to have sex. This would indicate that sexual intercourse among these adolescents was, in general, a matter of personal choice, and therefore a behavior capable of being modified.

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