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Denormalizing a Historical Problem: Teen Pregnancy, Policy, and Public Health Action

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Objective : To explore the impact of teen-adult sexual relationships as a public health threat and the effectiveness of statutory rape laws in protecting adolescent children.

Methods : A comprehensive review of current literature surrounding child abuse, teen pregnancy, and statutory rape was conducted.

Results : Of one million teen girls who become pregnant each year, two-thirds may be the victims of statutory rape. Current laws appear to marginalize the severity of teen- adult sexual relationships, compromising the health and safety of adolescent children.

Conclusions : Public health recommendations which include public policy change and enforcement, education, and community empowerment are offered.

Keywords: child sexual abuse; public policy; statutory rape

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-03-01

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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