Counseling Teen Fathers: A Developmentally Sensitive Strength-Based Approach
According to Planned Parenthood (Weiss, 2006), the rate of teen pregnancy has declined in the United States in recent years; however, a significant number of unplanned, and usually unwanted, teen pregnancies occur every year. The United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy among the most developed countries at an estimated cost of $7 billion annually. In 2004 there were 41.1 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19, which represents a decline by one-third since a recent peak of teens births in 1991 (Martin, Hamilton, Sutton, Ventura, Menacker, & Kirkmeyer, 2006). Birth rates also vary by state, ranging from 18.2 per 1,000 births to mothers ages 15 to 19 in New Hampshire in 2004, to 66.7 per 1,000 to mothers ages 15 to 19 in the District of Columbia. Information pertaining to fathers is often missing from birth records in cases where the birth mother is under 25 years of age and/or unmarried. For example, in 2004, the father’s age was not available for 36% of births to unmarried women and for 24% of births to women under 25 years of age. With adjustments made for these limitations in the data, it is
estimated that in 2004 there were 17 births per 1,000 teen males aged 15-19. To state this latter statistic in a different way, approximately 1.7% of all males aged 15-19 have fathered at least one child. However, the National Center on Health Statistics (2006) estimates that closer to 15% of males have fathered a child before the age of 20 years. This large discrepancy in the data may be due to a number of factors including under-reporting by both teen mothers and fathers, as well as other methodological problems in the data collection.