'The Influence of Early Sexual Debut and Sexual Violence on Adolescent Pregnancy: A Matched Case-Control Study in Jamaica"




Jamaica: Study on Gender-Based Violence & Teen Girls

April 13, 2009

In a new study of sexually experienced teenage girls in Jamaica, half reported sexual coercion and nearly all pregnancies were unplanned.

Forty-nine per cent of 15-17-year-old girls in Kingston, who were interviewed to identify risk factors for teen pregnancy, reported having experienced sexual coercion or violence, while one-third stated that they had been persuaded or forced to participate in their first sexual experience. Though young women who had experienced sexual violence were not more likely than those who had not to be pregnant, these alarming numbers reflect the widespread prevalence of gender-based violence in Jamaica.

Unintended pregnancies

The study also found that 94 per cent of pregnant teens interviewed reported that their pregnancies were unintended. These findings, suggest author Joy Noel Baumgartner of the non-profit organisationFamily Health International, demonstrate a strong need for increased education and services for young people in Jamaica to help reduce the country's high rates of unplanned teen pregnancy and gender-based violence.

Compared with their peers who had never been pregnant, adolescents who were pregnant were more likely to have had a first sexual partner who was at least five years older, to have low self-esteem and to believe contraception is solely a woman's responsibility.

Reduce pregnancy

To help reduce pregnancy risk, the author recommends that programmes encourage teens to delay sex (if it is under their control) until they find a job or finish school, as well as educate sexually active young women on more reliable, hormonal contraceptive methods that can be used along with condoms.

The study, 'The Influence of Early Sexual Debut and Sexual Violence on Adolescent Pregnancy: A Matched Case-Control Study in Jamaica,' appears in the March 2009 issue of International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, formerly known as International Family Planning Perspectives.

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