The Psychological Effects of the Ecological Network on African American Adolescents’ Pregnancy Behavior
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Research on the pregnancy tendencies and sexual behaviors of African American female adolescents, 14-18 years of age reveals patterns and influences that lead to these behaviors, and repeat pregnancies within a year. African American female adolescents are a part of a unique family structure and community. The people within this structure include immediate and extended family members, peers, and community, all of which play a unique role in her behavior and choices. Each relationship with the people in their lives are intertwined and effect each other, allowing substantial influence on the adolescent’s decisions. The examination of the complex and dynamic system of relationships involved in the lives of these adolescents is essential in prevention of continuing pregnancy before financial and emotional preparation. The proposed study will include 100 African American adolescents, ages 14- 18, living in a lower socioeconomic neighborhood. Each participant will begin the study immediately after giving birth to their first child. Participation will include a total of four in depth interviews, as well as further surveys and follow up questionnaires. After analysis of results thus far in the study, it appears that the context of neighborhood and social norms of peers plays a large role in adolescents own pregnancy behaviors. Parental support, psychological health, and access to health and educational resources are all essential in preventing and understanding adolescent pregnancy among African American adolescents living in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods.