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It is plain that numbers need narratives to explain them and it should equally be plain that unless the various magnitudes of a matter under investigation are known an explanatory narrative will be that much less valuable.Although the interminable debates about sociological theory are likely to have minimal interest for policy makers confronted with pressing material problems, some discussion of these areas seems necessary.This paper outlines an agenda on teenage pregnancy in New Zealand that would provide what policy makers need to know in order to carry out their tasks.
Studies within this paradigm emphasise the need for sex education aimed at the prevention of unwanted pregnancy and the control of sexually transmitted diseases.
Specific health concerns, however, do not exhaust the reasons for taking a legitimate interest in the sexual activity of young people and its consequences in pregnancy (Cunningham 1984, Simms and Simms 1986).
The first point to note is that only 12 variables, of the thousands available in this extensive longitudinal data set, were of any significance in discriminating between the two groups.
Of these, two were structural variables (socio-economic status, mother under 20 at first birth); five were individual or dispositional (IQ, self-esteem, reading score, not attached to school, and plan to leave early); and two were practice variables (no home interests at age 13, no religious activity).
The long-term costs of teenage pregnancy to the state, in terms of sole-parent family benefits expenditure is substantial (Goodger 1998).
Teenage Pregnancy Research Proposal Paper
These are acknowledged as the principal reasons for the recent determination to tackle teenage pregnancy in the United Kingdom, where the Cabinet has launched a multi-pronged campaign to address what is perceived there to be a serious problem (Social Exclusion Unit 1999:4).
Reliable studies indicate that the age of first sexual intercourse in New Zealand is decreasing and that the proportion of sexually active young people at school is increasing (Silva and Stanton 1996, Dickson et al. It is safe to conclude that at least a third of New Zealand teenagers are sexually experienced before they are 16, the minimum school-leaving age, and that well over half are engaged in sexual activity while at school (Fenwicke and Purdie 2000).
It is appropriate that medical research should focus on matters of social and individual health.
The "at risk" concept is so deeply embedded in the professional discourse of policy makers that to subject it to critique is not without risks of its own.
Statistical models provide the standard form of analysis and explanation for the purposes of policy making and state management and a kind of shorthand has emerged in which behaviour is typically explained by "risk factors". As an explanation of a social practice, to say that those who adopt it do so because they are the kind of people who probably will do so, does not explain why recognisable forms of social practice have emerged, or why particular individuals (rather than others with similar "risk" characteristics) should adopt them, or why their proportion might be 10% or 20% rather than some other figure.