School importance and dropout among pregnant adolescents

W Stevenson, K I Maton, D M Teti
Journal of Adolescent Health 1998, 22 (5): 376-82

PURPOSE: This study examined the relationship of psychological well-being, social support, and demographic variables to school importance and school dropout among pregnant teens.

METHOD: Fifty-one Caucasians and 68 African-Americans (mean age = 16.7 years, mean weeks pregnant = 23) were recruited from two Baltimore area prenatal teen clinics. The adolescents completed questionnaires measuring depression, self-esteem, mastery, parental and friend support, demographic characteristics (i.e., age, marital status, ethnicity, socioeconomic status), school importance, and status.

RESULTS: Most adolescents were enrolled in school or had graduated (69.7%), were receiving at least passing grades (78.7%), and perceived finishing high school as very important (76.7%). Blacks were more likely to say school was important (p < 0.001), were less likely to drop out (p < 0.01), and received higher grades (p < 0.01) than whites. Dropouts had lower family incomes than current school attenders and graduates (p < 0.05). One measure of psychological well-being (mastery, p < 0.01) was positively correlated with school importance. Social support did not correlate with school importance or dropout.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that dropping out of school among pregnant teens may be more strongly related to sociocultural factors than to individual characteristics such as emotional support and psychological well-being. Overall, this study reveals a positive picture of educational continuation and performance during pregnancy, with most adolescents recognizing the importance of education and remaining in school.

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