Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Teacher Education


This study was inspired by the researcher's concern for the health and well-being of the teen women that she teaches. Unplanned teen pregnancy interrupts the future dreams and education of one million teen women in the U.S. each year. Investigating the factors that contribute to unwanted teen pregnancy, to gain insight into ways to prevent unintended pregnancies, the author interviewed four alternative high school students, four teacher/health educators and observed four sexual-reproductive health classes. The teen student participants also completed a five-page questionnaire during in-depth, hour-long interviews. This was a qualitative, ethnographic study and the data was analyzed for patterns and grouped into predominate themes. Significant findings were that low socio-economic status and low self-esteem among female teens were strong predictors of teen pregnancy. Culture and ethnic background was not found to be a major influence for teen pregnancy in this community. The study found that if a teen has a close relationship with an adult mentor, especially a parent, this lessened the risk for teen accidental pregnancy. The main conclusion was that students need to have more formal schooling regarding sexuality education since they were under-informed and misinformed about their sexual and reproductive health. Among the recommendations are for educators to insist that sexual health education is taken more seriously; that reproductive health education include verbal self-defense skills and healthy decision making for teens; teachers work to change the US health standards to include comprehensive sexuality education in public schools from pre-school to twelfth grade; and to have regular sexual health advocates on staff at schools for private consultations, to answer student questions and distribute birth control at the middle and high school level.


Thesis (M.A.) Institute for Advanced Studies in Education

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