Adolescent mothers (ages 13-16) who have experienced sexual abuse or sexual violence in childhood or teenage life

Adolescence is a period of psychological and physical passing from childhood to adulthood.  This is a difficult period, which results fundamental changes in the structure of personality, behavioral patterns, habits and life goals. Along with inner changes the person goes through the period of puberty or sexual development. We can see that it is a difficult period in teenager’s life and any abuses, especially sexual abuses, can have terrible consequences on the person’s further life.

Nowadays we face a problem of adolescent pregnancy because of sexual abuse more and more frequently. The relationship between adolescent abuse and early pregnancy becomes obvious, and so this problem attracts attention of millions of people all over the world. Wyatt in his book Sexual Abuse and Consensual Sex investigates this problem and tries to give possible explanations to this phenomenon. He finds out such dependence: women who have experienced sexual abuse being a teenager have higher risk to be pregnant at early age than girls of the same age, who were not abused. “Findings from a population-based sample indicated that women who had been abused before age 18 were at increased risk of having an unintended pregnancy” (Wyatt, 1993, p. 134).

Girls who were sexually abused are at great risk for premature pregnancy. Katherine Bowman in her article “When Breastfeeding may be a Threat to Adolescent Mothers” presents her investigations about adolescent mothers and their problems. She states that adolescent mothers who have experienced sexual abuse or sexual violence in childhood or teenage life usually tend to dissociative behavior and this factor influences their new born children.

Such mothers usually worry about all intimate aspects that deal with a child. They are anxious about their child’s bathing, diapering and especially breastfeeding. Most adolescent mothers who have been sexually abused usually refuse to breastfeed their children or are extremely anxious about it.  “Adolescents may be reluctant to breastfeed because it may trigger anxiety and lead to discomfort with intimacy, and emotional distancing from their infants” (Bowman, 2007, p. 93). It is obvious that such mother’s behavior can lead to problems with a child and one of the most frequent consequences of it is child’s weak health (cited in Bowman, 2007).

McNeely suggests several ways to treat adolescent disorders in young mothers’ behavior. One of the possible ways to help such mothers is to have special trainings and seminars with them. “Promoting the health of these infants may be achieved by intervening with their mothers when they encounter their first parenting difficulties” (McNelly, 2002, p. 260).

Mc Nelly emphasizes that there are group-based methods, where youngsters try to work out their problems in the company of people who have familiar problems. Group-based options include survival camps, boot camps. All the treatment process is assisted by professional medical workers, social workers, psychiatrists, etc. These programs have a lot of advantages and are very useful in treating disorders but there is one essential disadvantage. Despite all the effort they show comparatively poor success. This can be explained by the fact that social programs affect only one part of the life of adolescents ”“ social life. At the same time major parts of the problem, which influence the behavior of adolescents are rooted in their families. So, treatment programs, which include not only adolescents but also the member of their families, show better results. So, family-based programs make the second group of treating measures applied for treating adolescents behavioral disorders. Working with the parents is an affective method to deal with the problems caused by sexual abuse (cited in McNelly, 2002).

Christopher states that unfortunately, very often parents not only don’t give necessary help to their children who have experiences sexual abuse but also create additional problems. “Social science research has demonstrated that parental involvement affects adolescent behavior, primarily through monitoring behavior on the part of parents.

Parents who spend more time supervising their children have children who engage in fewer risky behaviors” (Christopher, 1993, p. 59).

Small presents his researches and states that the quality of relations between mothers and daughters influences the age girls start sexual intercourse. Statistic shows that the more active part parents take in growing up their children the less is probability of behavioral problems and sexual abuses during the adolescence period. “The relationship between parent and child affects adolescent propensity to engage in risk behaviors. There is a clear negative relationship between a child’s perceptions of parent(s) knowledge about the goings on in his or her life and engagement in risk activities like smoking marijuana and stealing. And regardless of sex, adolescents are less likely to engage in risk behaviors, in this case alcohol consumption, if they have a positive relationship with their parent(s)” (Small, 1994, p. 626).

Multisystemic approach to treating adolescent mother’s behaviour is applied on several levels and seizes most aspects of adolescents’ life. In multisystemic programs the treatment involves the work with the family of adolescent mother same as her surrounding, neighborhood, friends and employers. Family relations are still regarded as dominant force, which shapes out the adolescent’s view of the world and major attention is paid to this aspect of teenagers’ life. The combination of different kinds of treatment shows the best results in dealing with deviant adolescent behavior.

Analyzing these reliable sources we can see that adolescent mothers who have experienced sexual abuse in childhood can have serious behavioral problems and these problems can influence child’s health and psychic state. Taking into account this factor the best way out for adolescent mothers is to attend special seminars and trainings, where professionals are ready to help them with their problems.

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