Study objective: The UK government argues that “social exclusion” increases risk of teenage pregnancy and that educational factors may be dimensions of such exclusion. The evidence cited by the government is limited to reporting that socioeconomic disadvantage and educational attainment influence risk. Evidence regarding young people’s attitude to school is not cited, and there is a lack of research concerning the UK. This paper develops hypotheses on the relation between socioeconomic and educational dimensions of social exclusion, and risk of teenage pregnancy, by examining whether dislike of school and socioeconomic disadvantage are associated with cognitive/behavioural risk measures among 13/14 year olds in English schools.
Design: Analysis of data from the baseline survey of a study of sex education.
Setting and participants: 13/14 year old school students from south east England.
Main results: The results indicate that socioeconomic disadvantage and dislike of school are associated with various risk factors, each with a different pattern. Those disliking school, despite having comparable knowledge to those liking school, were more likely to have sexual intercourse, expect sexual intercourse by age 16, and expect to be parents by the age of 20. For most associations, the crude odds ratios (ORs) and the ORs adjusted for the other exposure were similar, suggesting that inter-confounding between exposures was limited.
Conclusions: It is hypothesised that in determining risk of teenage pregnancy, the two exposures are independent. Those disliking school might be at greater risk of teenage pregnancy because they are more likely to see teenage pregnancy as inevitable or positive.
- social exclusion
- socioeconomic status
- teenage pregnancy
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Funding: UK Medical Research Council funding for two projects respectively entitled: “Examining socio-economic and cultural determinants of teenage sexual health”; and “A randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of peer-led sex education in schools”.
Conflicts of interest: none declared.