Purpose: To examine, from a youth's perspective, adolescent pregnancy and parenting in Baltimore, Maryland, a city with high rates of adolescent pregnancy. Methods: Six gender-stratified focus groups with 13- to 19-year-olds (4 female and 2 male groups; n = 47). We recorded focus groups, transcribed them verbatim, and analyzed them using the constant comparison method. Participants completed questionnaires to collect demographic and behavioral information. Results: Results fit into a social-ecological framework. Individual (e.g., contraceptive use behaviors, religion), interpersonal (e.g., peer norms, maintaining male partners), and community (e.g., clinic factors, perceptions of community) level influences on adolescent pregnancy emerged. Participants discussed contradictory messages that were often gendered in their expectations; for instance, women were responsible for not getting pregnant and raising children. Adolescents expressed beliefs both against (e.g., challenging to complete school) and supporting early childrearing (e.g., religion). Recommendations for addressing the different influences included mentors, education, and community resources. Conclusions: Adolescents' perspectives and values regarding pregnancy and parenting may not mirror traditional and expected norms for pregnancy and requirements for raising a child. These findings challenge the framing of existing interventions as they may not accurately reflect adolescents' values regarding pregnancy and parenting, and thus may need to be modified to highlight positive attitudes toward contraception and postponing pregnancy.
- Adolescent pregnancy
- Focus groups
- Urban youth
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health