Teenage Pregnancies
by James L. Morrison

[Note: This is a re-formatted manuscript that was originally published in On the Horizon, 1992, 1(2), 2. It is posted here with permission from Jossey Bass Publishers.]

  • Birthrates for teenagers have been on the increase since 1987. Some attribute the increase to a dramatic rise in births to teenagers; since 1986, Hispanic teenagers have made up more than a third of the increase. Others say that the teen birthrate growth is caused by teenagers becoming sexually active at earlier ages. More than 1 million teenage girls-one in every ten under the age of 20-become pregnant in the U.S. annually, and teens have 25% of all abortions. The birthrate for white teens has increased slightly, by 6%, from 1980 to 1989. [Shapiro, J.P. (1992, July 13). The teen pregnancy boom. U.S. News & World Report, p. 38.]
  • One American child in five is born out of wedlock, 40% to teenagers. [What lies ahead: A decade of decision. (1992). Alexandria, Virginia: United Way Strategic Institute, p. 18.]


Teenage pregnancy continues to impact, not only on the young woman's prospects and needs, but also on the institutions charged with continuing her education. Teachers, administrators, and other school staff members need to be trained to understand and deal with the unique problems associated with this social phenomenon. At a minimum, colleges and universities have a role to play both in training these personnel and in providing consultative services. Some will begin looking into ways to make themselves more accessible to single parents of school-age children.

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