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Adolescent Motherhood: Implications for the Juvenile Justice System

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1997
2 pages
This Fact Sheet provided by the U.S Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) summarizes the main findings of a recently released report on the consequences of adolescent childbearing, including implications for the juvenile justice system.
The study's report is entitled, "Kids Having Kids: A Robin Hood Foundation Special Report on the Costs of Adolescent Childbearing." This report synthesizes the findings from eight separate studies of the consequences and costs of adolescent motherhood. The report attributes the following "alarming" social trends to adolescent childbearing: 1) high and rising child poverty rates; 2) the number of welfare recipients and associated costs of public assistance; and 3) an associated higher proportion of never-married women, younger recipients, and long average durations of welfare dependency. Two of the studies included in the featured report have a direct bearing on the juvenile justice field. Among the findings of these studies are that the sons of adolescent mothers are 2.7 times more likely to be incarcerated than the sons of mothers who delay childbearing until their early 20's, and delays in childbearing beyond age 21 would lead to even larger reductions in incarceration rates of young men. The study makes clear, however, that a significant portion of the high incarceration rates and related prison costs related to adolescent childbearing are directly attributed to the adverse effects of adolescent childbearing. Taken together, the findings documented in the report indicate the need for juvenile justice agencies to develop programs designed to reduce teen pregnancies as an important component of strategies to prevent serious, violent, and habitual juvenile offending.

Date Published: January 1, 1997