Sexual violence in early adolescence is associated with subsequent teen pregnancy and parenthood

Dennis E. Reidy, Shristi Bhochhibhoya, Elizabeth R. Baumler, Melissa F. Peskin, Susan T. Emery, Ross Shegog, Jeff R. Temple, Christine Markham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Being a victim of sexual violence (SV) is associated with risk for teen pregnancy in cross-sectional research. However, longitudinal data are necessary to determine if SV victimization plays a causal role in early pregnancy. To address this gap in research, we test whether experiencing SV victimization in early adolescence is associated with pregnancy and having children by mid-adolescence. The current sample comprised 4594 youth (58% female; 51% Hispanic; 39% Black) attending 44 schools in the southern United States. Self-reported data were collected via audio computer-assisted self-interview (ACASI) when students were in 7th or 8th grade and again approximately 24 months later. Approximately 2.9% of boys and 8.2% of girls reported SV victimization at baseline. At follow-up, 3.4% of boys and 4.0% of girls reported being involved with one or more pregnancies; 1.1% of boys and girls reported having one or more children. Being a victim of SV at baseline was associated with pregnancy and having a child at follow-up for girls. SV was not related to outcomes among boys. The present findings indicate that girls victimized by SV are at risk of becoming pregnant and becoming teen parents. The combined sequelae of SV and teen pregnancy impair health, economic, and social functioning across the lifespan and carry forward into future generations. Future research should explore mechanisms through which victimization confers risk for pregnancy to inform prevention strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107517
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Sexual abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual violence
  • Teen parent
  • Teen pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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