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Intervention reduces delinquent teenage pregancy rates
Date:6/1/2009

CORVALLIS, Ore. A program aimed at reducing criminal behavior in juvenile justice teens has yielded a surprising side benefit. The program is also reducing the teens' rate of pregnancy, according to a new study out this week.

David Kerr, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Oregon State University, and Leslie Leve and Patricia Chamberlain of the Eugene-based Oregon Social Learning Center, conducted the research, which will be published in the April edition of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Their work was funded in part by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Mental Health at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The study was conducted with 166 teen girls ages 13-17 with histories of criminal behavior who had been court-mandated to receive out-of-home treatment. The girls were randomly assigned to either receive the Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC) program, which involved one-on-one care in the homes of highly trained foster parents, or the services they would have received had they not participated in the study, which was usually treatment in a group care facility.

The results were dramatic, according to lead author Kerr of OSU. About 26 percent of the girls assigned to receive the specialized Treatment Foster Care program became pregnant, compared to almost 47 percent of teens in group care.

"These girls are extremely compromised," Kerr said. "They are not doing well. They have had a hard time in different areas, including criminal behavior, drugs and risky sexual activity. Many of them had already been pregnant before the time of the intervention."

Kerr said while teen pregnancy rates have fallen in recent years, the United States still has one of the highest rates compared to other industrialized nations. And that rate is even higher among females in the foster care system. One survey of child welfare syst
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Contact: David Kerr
david.kerr@oregonstate.edu
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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