Abused Boys and Sons of Battered Mothers More Likely to Be Involved in Teen...

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Men who were physically or sexually abused as boys or who witnessed their mothers being abused are more likely to contribute to a teen pregnancy, report researchers in the February issue of Pediatrics.

The article suggests that by routinely screening boys and men for these experiences, pediatricians and other health care providers could identify boys and men at risk and counsel them about sexual practices and contraception.

In the study, 4,127 adult male members of Kaiser Permanente in San Diego were asked about childhood exposure to abuse and their sexual histories. The respondents also were asked the age of the youngest woman that they had ever gotten pregnant. (The study considered women age 19 or younger to be teenagers.)

The results showed that respondents who had been abused or who had witnessed maternal abuse were more likely than respondents who did not have those experiences to have had a sexual relationship (either as an adolescent or an adult) that resulted in a female teen becoming pregnant. Researchers reported the following findings:

  • 32 percent of respondents reported physical abuse; 15 percent reported sexual abuse; 11 percent reported having a battered mother.
  • Compared with men reporting no abuse, the risk of involvement in teen pregnancy increased by 70 percent for men with a background of frequent childhood physical abuse and by 140 percent for men who witnessed domestic violence while growing up.
  • Men who were sexually abused at age 10 or younger were 80 percent more likely to later impregnate a teenage girl
  • Men who reported all three types of exposures were more than twice as likely to have been involved in teen pregnancy than those with no exposures.

In discussing their findings, the authors advocate for "continued vigilance" by pediatricians in identifying both boys and girls exposed to abuse or domestic violence as a means of preventing teen pregnancy and interrupting intergenerational cycles of abuse. The authors call for increased training of physicians in child abuse and domestic violence and better communication among pediatricians and adult practitioners. The authors of the article were Robert F. Anda, Vincent J. Felitti, Daniel P. Chapman, Janet B. Croft, David F. Williamson, John Santelli, Patricia M. Dietz, and James S. Marks.

Read the article "Abused Boys, Battered Mothers, and Male Involvement in Teen Pregnancy" in the February 2001 issue of Pediatrics (Vol. 107, No. 2), online at: http://www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/107/2/e19.

Vol. 2, No. 3
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