An increasing number of children are being born to teenage mothers. It has been reported that children born to teenage mothers experience significant life-long challenges.
Social science research indicates that teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of high school and live in poverty, and their children frequently experience health and developmental problems (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2004). While millions of American families struggle individually with the emotional and economic challenges that unintended pregnancy can bring, teen pregnancy poses a significant financial burden to society at large — an estimated $7 billion per year (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1998; National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2003a).
Data indicates that teen pregnancy rates vary widely by race and ethnicity. In 2000, the pregnancy rate for white teens was 56.9 per 1,000 women 15-19 years of age. The pregnancy rate for Hispanic teens was 132. For African American teens it was 151 (Abma et al., 2004). In general, it has been reported that teenage mothers do not fare as well as their peers who delay childbearing:
– Their family incomes are lower.
– They are more likely to be poor and receive welfare. – They are less educated.
– They are less likely to be married.
– Their children lag in standards of early development.
(AGI, 1999; Hoffman, 1998; National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2003a; National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2004a).
In the United States, nearly 80 percent of teen mothers eventually go on welfare. According to one study, more than 75 percent of all unmarried teen mothers began receiving welfare within five years of giving birth (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1998; National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2004).
In 2001, only 30 percent of teenage mothers received child support payments (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2004). Although not as severe as those for teen mothers, the effects of early childbearing are also negative for teen fathers. They are more likely to engage in delinquent behaviors such as alcohol abuse or drug dealing, and they complete fewer years of schooling than their childless peers. One study found that the fathers of children born to teen mothers earned an estimated average of $3,400 less per year than the fathers of children born to mothers who were 20 or 21, over the course of 18 years following the birth of their first child (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1998).
The offspring of teenage mothers are more likely to be poor, abused, or neglected than those of women who delay childbearing, and they are less likely to receive proper nutrition, health care, and cognitive and social stimulation (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1998; Maynard, 1997). On average, a child born to a teenage mother visits a medical provider 3.8 times per year, versus 4.3 times for a child born to a mother over the age of 20 years (National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2004b).
Experts estimate that the annual costs of births to teens totals about $7 billion in tax revenues, public assistance, child health care, foster care, and involvement with the criminal justice system. In addition, during her first 13 years of parenthood, the average teenage mother receives approximately $1,400 per year in support from Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and the federal food stamp program (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1998)
Sources: Annie E. Casey Foundation. (1998). Kids Count Special Report: When Teens Have Sex: Issues and Trends. Baltimore, MD: Annie E. Casey Foundation. Abma, J.C., et al. (2004). Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2002. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Statistics, 23(24). AGI — Alan Guttmacher Institute. (1995, accessed 1999, August 30). Issues in Brief: Lawmakers Grapple with Parents’ Role in Teen Access to Reproductive Health Care. [Online]. http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/ib6.html.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art
 Annie E. Casey Foundation. (1998). Kids Count Special Report: When Teens Have Sex: Issues and Trends. Baltimore, MD: Annie E. Casey Foundation.
 Abma, J.C., et al. (2004). Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2002. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Statistics, 23(24).
 AGI — Alan Guttmacher Institute. (1995, accessed 1999, August 30). Issues in Brief: Lawmakers Grapple with Parents’ Role in Teen Access to Reproductive Health Care. [Online]. http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/ib6.html.
Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup. Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.
Abusers often suggest that they beat their wives because their wives drink. But several studies have shown that many battered women start drinking subsequent to the battering. So, it may be defensive behavior on the part of women, trying to cope with an intolerable situation.” – Linda Salzman, PhD, Criminologist at the Centers for Disease Control.
• 33% of battered women suffer depression.
•26% of all women who attempt suicide are victims of
•10% of all battered women abuse drugs or alcohol.
•50% of all alcoholic or addicted women are victims of
•A survey of 2,099 women found that women who had experienced abuse reported more frequent use of sleeping pills and sedatives than women who had not been abused.
◦40% more battered women reported sleeping pill use.
◦74% more battered women reported sedative use.
◦50% more women physically abused as children reported sleeping pill use and all reported sedative use.
•Substance abuse adds more problems for the victim because:
◦There is less resistance from the victim
◦It gives more power to the abuser
◦The victim feels like they ‘deserve’ the abuse
◦There is less support from the victim’s family
◦The victim tends to ignore the home, bills, children, etc.
•Ten studies reporting chronic alcohol use, alcoholism, or alcohol abuse reported that between 24% and 86% of battering incidents involved alcohol abuse. When batterers reported, the result was a combined average of 36% of battering incidents involving alcohol; when victims reported, the combined average was 67%.
•A study of 400 battered women found that 67% of batterers frequently abused alcohol; however, only one-fifth had abused alcohol during all four battering incidents on which data were collected.
•In one batterers intervention program, 90% of the men had abused alcohol at the time of the latest battering incident. The vast majority of participants also reported battering their partners when not under the influence of alcohol.
Battering is a socially learned behavior, and is not the result of substance abuse or mental illness. With regard to domestic violence, substance abuse may be viewed as:
• An excuse. In many societies, including ours, substance use has a role as a time out from responsibility during which the user can engage in exceptional behavior and later disavow the behavior as caused by the substance rather than the self (MacAndrew & Edgerton, 1969). Some observers suggest batterers use substances first as a vehicle, then as an excuse, for being controlling and violent.
•A cognitive disrupter. Drugs or alcohol may reduce the user’s ability to perceive, integrate, and process information, increasing his risk for violence (Pernanen, 1991). Batterers may be more likely than non-batterers to misinterpret the actions of their partners in this manner, and substances enhance the misinterpretation.
• A power motive. Substance abuse and woman abuse may share common origins in a need to achieve personal power and control (Gondolf, 1995).
•Situational. Violence may occur during the process of obtaining and using substances. The situational relationship between substance abuse and woman abuse is particularly relevant when illegal drugs are involved. A battered woman may use substances with her abuser in an attempt to manage his violence and increase her own safety (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 1997), or she may be forced to use substances with her batterer.
•A chemical agent. Substance abuse may increase the risk for woman abuse through chemical actions on brain mechanisms linked to aggression (Miczek, et al., 1994). However, there is no evidence that batterers are neither “hard wired” for violence, nor that their socialization or choice-making processes are not operational when using substances.
•Partial to certain characteristics. Substance abuse may increase the risk for woman abuse only for those men with certain
characteristics. In Kenneth Leonard’s national study of 23-year-old men, heavy drinking was associated with woman abuse only for those men with a high levels of hostility and low levels of marital satisfaction (Leonard & Blane, 1992).
•Effective across generations. Substance abuse and woman abuse are learned through observation and practice, and are related over time. Parental substance abuse and parental woman abuse may impact the development of children, increasing the chances of a child growing up to be an abuser, a victim of abuse, and/or a substance abuser (Kantor & Asdigian, 1993).
Similarities between substance abuse and domestic violence:
•Affects entire families
•Negatively impacts a pregnancy
•Strong denial tendencies
•Thrives on isolation, shame, and silence
•Pervasive social and health problems cut across all demographic categories
•Tend to become progressively worse
•Often lead to other kinds of problems (e.g. health, legal and financial)
Source(s): Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Linda Salzman, PhD, Criminologist at the Centers for Disease Control. Kantor & Asdigian, 1993. Leonard & Blane, 1992. Miczek, et al., 1994. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 1997. Gondolf, 1995. Pernanen, 1991. MacAndrew & Edgerton, 1969. Larry W. Bennett, Ph.D. “Substance Abuse and Woman Abuse by Male Partners.” University of Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work. September 1997.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art.
 Larry W. Bennett, Ph.D. “Substance Abuse and Woman Abuse by Male Partners.” University of Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work. September 1997.
Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern. Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
The costs of intimate partner violence in the United States alone exceed $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion. In the fall of 2010, the Obama administration launched a new initiative to assist employers to respond to domestic and sexual violence. Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence: A National Resource Center is a new initiative that makes it easier for employers to adopt policies to support and protect employees who are victims of domestic and sexual violence.
The National Resource Center’s website includes but is not limited to: information on work place violence, guns and the work place, and union responses. The new Workplace Resource Center was created by a partnership of seven national organizations led by the Family Violence Prevention Fund.
For further information on the new national center, visit Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence: A National Resource Center’s website at http://www.workplacesrespond.org/.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Every 9 seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually. Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup. Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.
Everyone has a right to be safe. Toward that goal, it is important to create a safety plan. There are many helpful safety planning websites for adult and teenage victims of domestic as well as elder abuse victims. Because October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we will focus on the importance of creating a safety plan for victims of domestic violence in this post. If you are in an abusive relationship, it is particularly important to create a personal safety plan and to share it with others.
Research indicates that if you have been battered in your present relationship, you should understand that you are never safe. Perhaps, you may feel that the abuse has ceased and the relationship is improving because the batterer promised to change. You may even convince yourself that the abuse will end if you are the “perfect” partner. Persons who abuse their partners do not just “stop” the battering behavior. In fact, research indicates that often abusive behavior increases over time. The abusive incidents tend to occur more frequently and the level of violence escalates. As a result, it is critical to create a safety plan.
For further information on the creation of a personal safety plan for victims of domestic violence here is a list of a few very helpful websites: http://www.safehorizon.org; http://www.domesticviolence.org; http://www.thesafespace.org; and http://www.acadv.org; and http://www.thorpe.ou.edu.
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March 10th is recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, Office on Women’s Health, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI) as National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
Fortunately, HIV/AIDS is preventable. Nevertheless, each year, HIV/AIDS continues to destroy countless lives. HIV/AIDS takes the greatest toll among African-Americans, Latinos and MSM of all races. The rate of new infections among blacks is seven times the rate among whites. Among Hispanics, the rate of new HIV infections is three times as high as that among whites. And according to a recent CDC analysis, the HIV diagnosis rate among MSM is forty-four (44) times that of other men.
One out of four HIV cases in our nation are among women and girls, thirteen years of age and older; and two out of three of these women and girls are African-American. Given these grim statistics, this pressing public health issue challenges each of us to be “our sisters’ keepers.” This National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, you can choose to make a difference in the lives of others. Toward that end, take action in the fight against HIV and raise awareness of its impact on women and girls.
Get tested. Encourage every female within your sphere of influence to be tested for HIV/AIDS. Additionally, you can plan or support HIV prevention efforts in your community. Learn about the Take Charge Take the Test campaign to encourage African American women to get tested for HIV.
With an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action, each of us can educate members of our community about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the importance of knowing your HIV status. For further information about HIV/AIDS, visit the following websites: Centers for Disease Control’s website at http://www.cdc.gov ; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, Office on Women’s Health at http://www.womenshealth.gov/NWGHAAD/
Source(s): Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), HIV Surveillance Report: Diagnoses of HIV infection and AIDS in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2009.; Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI)
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Domestic violence continues to pose a clear and present danger for women and girls. To highlight that fact here are some alarming facts shared on the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s website:
“Almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner. In 70-80% of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder. Less than one-fifth of victims reporting an injury from intimate partner violence sought medical treatment following the injury. Intimate partner violence results in more than 18.5 million mental health care visits each year.”
With that said, not all homes provide a safe haven. For far too many women violence and danger are their constant companions. Many incidents of domestic violence go unreported. What data that is available indicates as shared previously that domestic violence continues to pose a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of countless women and girls. Yet, domestic violence is a subject that we, as a society, are reluctant to talk about. As a result, victims often suffer and sometimes die in silence. It is important to know: what constitutes domestic violence, how you can help, and available resources.
What constitutes abuse? Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors, including but not limited to physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion, that people use to gain power and control over their intimate partners. Research indicates that domestic violence is common and affects people of all cultures, religions, ages, sexual orientations, educational backgrounds and income levels. Domestic violence is not a private family matter as was once thought but rather a crime against society. Abuse takes many forms.
Abuse comes in several forms and, while some define abuse as a physical attack, it can also be emotional, financial, or sexual. Physically abusive behavior can escalate quickly and have lethal consequences. Emotional abuse is considered a psychological or mental attack on another, including name-calling, destructive criticism, harassment, isolation, intimidation, or humiliation. These emotionally destructive behaviors by the abusive partner can be detrimental to the victim’s mental well-being both in the short-term as well as long-term without counseling. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy the victim’s self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make the victim feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure this kind of pain—and the first step to breaking free is recognizing that the relationship is abusive.
Are there other forms of domestic violence? Other forms of domestic violence include but are not limited to financial and sexual abuse. Financial abuse, also known as economic abuse, results from one partner’s attempts to gain and maintain control over their partner’s finances. Taking many forms, financial abuse includes disallowing a partner from obtaining a job, purposely hurting a partner’s credit, limiting access to funds, and demanding that a partner ask for money for every expense. Sexual abuse results from one partner forcing his or her will on the other, often causing physical and psychological harm in the process. When a partner is afraid to say no, he or she suffers from abuse. Once the victim acknowledges the reality of the abusive situation, then she or he can get the much-needed help.
Is this an exhaustive list of the forms of domestic violence? Although lengthy, the aforementioned categories of domestic violence do not comprise all forms abuse. Stalking is another form of emotional abuse. With the rise of technology, many abuse their partner by stalking them with the aid of cell phones, computers, and the Internet, or using technology to monitor a partner’s activity. Research indicates that this type of abuse is especially common among teenagers and young adults.
The immigration status of the victim can also afford the abusive partner an opportunity to control the victim. When the abusive partner, often a spouse, holds control over the victim’s immigration papers, threatens to call immigration authorities, or refuses to let his or her partner to learn English, among other things this behavior constitutes abuse. More than ever before, society must guard against domestic abuse in all forms, paying special attention to non-traditional forms of abusive behavior which all too often go overlooked.
How can you help? There are several ways that you can help a person in an abusive relationship. First, you must be a patient and non-judgmental listener. Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. Secondly, you can encourage him or her to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Assist your friend in locating a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling and/or shelter. If the person elects to go to the police, court or a lawyer, you can offer to accompany them for moral support.
It is important to be mindful that you cannot rescue the person being abused. Although it is difficult to see someone you care about being hurt only the abused person can decide when to take the requisite steps to secure a life free from the violence and turmoil which occurs in an abusive relationship.
The pervasive problem of domestic violence takes everyone to make it stop. If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, keep in mind that expressing your concern for their health and well-being will let the person know that you care and may even save her or his life.
Sources:NCADV website and PCADV website
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October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). In recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, this blog post seeks to: raise awareness about the prevalence of this pressing public health issue; delineate steps you can take to support a victim of domestic violence; and provide you with a course of action to help eradicate domestic violence.
For far too many women violence and danger are their constant companions. Despite concerted efforts to eradicate domestic violence, data indicates that intimate partner violence continues to pose a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of countless persons. Social science research indicates that one (1) in four (4) women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. [i] Indigent women are more vulnerable.
On average, more than three (3) women a day are murdered by their intimate partners in our country [ii]. Annually, women experience an estimated two (2) million women injuries resulting from an abusive relationship.[iii] Women who are between the ages of 20-24 years old are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.[iv] Research indicates that most incidents of domestic violence are not reported to the police. [v] The dearth of safe, decent, affordable housing causes many poor women to confront the unenviable choice of homelessness or remaining in a home plagued by violence and turmoil resulting from domestic violence.
If someone you know is being abused, the National Domestic Violence Hotline recommends that you do the following:
Listen to the victim. Tell the victim, “I believe you.”
Acknowledge the abuse and that the behavior is inappropriate. Tell the victim, “No one deserves to be abused.”
Respect the victim’s choices. Tell the victim, “It’s important for you to make decisions that are best for you.”
Be supportive—if the victim wants to file a police report and/or a restraining order offer to accompany them. Tell the victim, “You are NOT alone.”
Provide encouragement to the victim that might be feeling hopeless. Tell the victim, “The National Domestic Violence Hotline is anonymous and confidential and provides information and referrals. You could call them for help.”
Domestic violence thrives on apathy and ignorance. It can be eradicated with an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, here is a list of additional ways that you can help eradicate domestic: share domestic violence resources with a victim of abuse; volunteer at a domestic violence agency; speak out against domestic violence; donate money and/or items to your local domestic violence organization; donate your old cell telephone and its accessories via Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine; and encourage your community to support domestic violence services as well as hold perpetrators accountable for their illegal behavior.
[i] Tjaden, Patricia & Thoennes, Nancy, National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 1993, “Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey,” (2000).
[ii] U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the United States, December 2006.
[iii] CDC. Adverse Health Conditions & Health Risk: Behaviors Associated with Intimate Partner Violence. 2008. Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, February 8, 2008.
[iv] U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the United States, December 2006.
[v] Frieze, I.H., Browne, A. (1989). Violence in Marriage. In L.E. Ohlin & M.H. Tonry (eds.) Family Violence, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Sources: Listed above including but not limited to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art