Intervention Program Also Effective In Curbing Teen Pregnancy Rates
June 2, 2009 / AHN
A program aimed at preventing criminal behavior in at-risk teenage girls has yielded an unexpected, positive side effect - it also reduces the teens' pregnancy rates, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by Oregon State University researchers, involved girls ages 13 to 17 with histories of criminal behavior who had been court-mandated to receive out-of-home treatment. The girls were randomly assigned to either receive a program known as the Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care, which involves individual care in the homes of trained foster parents, or the services they would have received if they didn't participate in the study.
David Kerr, an assistant professor of psychology at Oregon State, said the results were significant. More than 45 percent of the girls in group care became pregnant, compared to 26 percent of the girls in one-on-one care.
"One of the most interesting aspects of this research is that the MTFC program was created to reduce crime, not pregnancy," Kerr said in a statement. "It specifically targeted changing the girl's environment: her home, her peers and her school experience. The focus was on giving her lots of supervision, support for responsible behavior, and consistent, non-harsh consequences for negative behavior. And this worked to reduce pregnancy rates."
Kerr said that pregnancy rates in the United States are particularly high compared with other industrialized nations, and rates are even higher for girls in the foster care system.
The study is published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. [ http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=browsePA.volumes&jcode=ccp ]