Introduction: The purpose of this study was to examine attitudes and behaviors associated with parenthood and pregnancy among adolescents in the juvenile justice system. Method: A cross-sectional survey of attitudes and behaviors about parenthood was conducted with 300 adolescents residing in three juvenile detention centers. Results: Data revealed high rates of risky behaviors that resulted in parenthood/pregnancy and generally positive attitudes about being an adolescent parent. Positive attitudes about parenthood (P = .000) and lower self-efficacy to not have sex (P = .021) were significantly correlated with having been pregnant or having fathered a child. Logistic regression showed positive attitudes about parenthood and the combination of drinking and driving together were significant predictors of pregnancy (P ≤ .05). Discussion: Pediatric nurse practitioners working with adolescents in the juvenile justice system who routinely provide prevention counseling and implement health promotion programs must take into account the reality that many adolescents in this population are or will become parents and do not consider pregnancy as an outcome to be necessarily avoided. Moving beyond primary and secondary prevention strategies to implement programs to prevent second pregnancies and enhance parenting skills will provide needed health benefits to these adolescent parents.
- juvenile justice system
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health