A Missing Link? An exploratory study of the connections between non-consensual sex and teenage pregnancy
Teenage pregnancy has been a policy priority traversing health, education and crime agendas at national and local levels for a decade. In 1999 a twin track strategy for England and Wales was introduced that aimed to halve teenage conception rates among under 18s by 2010, whilst simultaneously reducing social exclusion among teenage parents (SEU, 1999).
Although the 1999 strategy identifies sexual abuse as a risk factor for teenage conception, this link is not evident in annual reports and evaluations of the strategy. Moreover, whether or not teenage pregnancies are a result of non-consensual sex has yet to be specifically addressed in the substantial UK evidence base on risk factors, conducive contexts, interventions and outcomes. That said, international research findings demonstrate connections between sexual abuse, coercion and intimate partner violence and teenage conception rates. The potential links are reiterated in the public consultation on the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy (DCSF, 2010) 2010 and Beyond and the NHS Taskforce on Violence against Women and Children refers to teenage pregnancy as one of many impacts of abuse. This report presents findings from the first contemporary UK study to focus on this association.
Completed September 2010