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Identifying Individual, Family, and Education Factors that Protect Latina Adolescents in Alternative High Schools from an Early Pregnancy

Cruz, Maria Elena
Degree Supervisor:
Laura F. Romo
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Hispanic American Studies, Education, Health, and Sociology, Individual and Family Studies
At-risk populations
Protective factors
Adolescent pregnancy
Early motherhood
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Education
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2011

Little is known about what factors shape the reproductive health outcomes of Latina girls in high risk settings such as alternative high schools. This question is important because these adolescents are at-risk for school dropout and are in an environment in which risky sexual behavior and adolescent parenting is normative. Although such factors contribute to their vulnerability to teenage pregnancy, many sexually active adolescents in alternative schools are resilient to these influences. Under the asset framework (Benson, 2003; Lerner, 2005), protective factors are conditions that buffer exposure to risks.

Additionally, a compensatory model of resilience suggests having enough protective factors can offset or counteract the negative effects of risk or adversity, or improve positive adjustment in general (Masten & Wright, 2009).This study identifies protective factors that contribute to low-achieving sexually active never pregnant (NP) Latina adolescents' resilience toward an early pregnancy by comparing them to a sample of pregnant/parenting (PP) adolescents. The participants were fifty-five NP adolescents (16--18 years) enrolled in alternative schools and 36 same-age PP adolescents from the same community. The NP adolescents reported lower levels of academic achievement and lower feelings of school belonging at the onset of high school. The 40-minute survey was similar for both groups with the exception that for PP adolescents, attitudinal and communication questions were preceded with the phrase "before you became pregnant...?" A series of MANCOVAs were performed.

There was a significant difference between NP and PP adolescents on positive orientation toward early motherhood (F (1, 87) = 13.80, p < .001, with NP adolescents perceiving the role of adolescent motherhood less positively than PP adolescents. NP adolescents reported greater condom use self-efficacy compared to PP adolescents, after controlling for age ( F (1, 84) = 6.66, p < .01. Maternal communication variables and educational goals were not significantly different between the groups. Although the sexually active NP adolescents were at high risk for pregnancy because of their low academic achievement and low levels of school belonging at the onset of high school, having less positive orientation toward motherhood and confidence using condoms seemed to protect them from an early pregnancy.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (79 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Maria Elena Cruz
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