Other Youth Topics


  1. Youth Topics
  2. Pregnancy Prevention
  3. Risk and Protective Factors

Risk and Protective Factors

Teen pregnancy can result in a number of negative consequences. It is necessary to understand the associated risk and protective factors in order to appropriately implement prevention efforts. Risk factors encourage, or increase, behaviors that increase the likelihood of teen pregnancy, while protective factors decrease these behaviors. These factors can occur in multiple domains, such as individual (teen’s attitude), family (poverty status), and community (available resources).1

Key risk factors include living in poverty, limited maternal educational achievement, and having a mother who gave birth before the age of 20.2 Additional risk factors include being from a single-parent home, living in a home with frequent family conflict, early sexual activity, early use of alcohol and drugs, and low self-esteem.3 Lastly, a teen’s race and ethnicity can be a risk factor for teen pregnancy.

Some protective factors include open communication with parents and/or adults about accurate contraception use, parental support and healthy family dynamics, and peer use of condoms. Protective factors also include positive attitudes towards condom use, intent to abstain from sex or limit one’s number of partners, and accurate knowledge of sexual health, HIV infection, sexually transmitted infections, the importance of abstinence, and pregnancy. 4

Identifying these factors is important because it can help effectively guide teen pregnancy prevention program planning and implementation by focusing on the specific and varied needs of the youth in the community. Learn more about teen pregnancy prevention efforts being supported by the federal government.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Overview of Contraception
This web page from the CDC goes over the different types of contraception that are available, how they work, and the effectiveness of each method.

GirlsHealth.gov: Overview of Birth Control
This web page from GirlsHealth.gov gives an overview of possible questions young women may have regarding birth control and birth control options. It also links to an overview of types of birth control.

1 Washington State Health Department, 2007
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health, 2011
3 CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health, 2011; Kirby, Lepore, & Ryan, 2005
4 CDC, 2011c; Martinez, Copen, & Abma, 2011

Youth Briefs

How Individualized Education Program (IEP) Transition Planning Makes a Difference for Youth with Disabilities

Youth who receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and especially young adults of transition age, should be involved in planning for life after high school as early as possible and no later than age 16. Transition services should stem from the individual youth’s needs and strengths, ensuring that planning takes into account his or her interests, preferences, and desires for the future.

Youth Transitioning to Adulthood: How Holding Early Leadership Positions Can Make a Difference

Research links early leadership with increased self-efficacy and suggests that leadership can help youth to develop decision making and interpersonal skills that support successes in the workforce and adulthood. In addition, young leaders tend to be more involved in their communities, and have lower dropout rates than their peers. Youth leaders also show considerable benefits for their communities, providing valuable insight into the needs and interests of young people

How Trained Service Professionals and Self-Advocacy Makes a Difference for Youth with Mental Health, Substance Abuse, or Co-occurring Issues

Statistics reflecting the number of youth suffering from mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders highlight the necessity for schools, families, support staff, and communities to work together to develop targeted, coordinated, and comprehensive transition plans for young people with a history of mental health needs and/or substance abuse.

Young Adults Formerly in Foster Care: Challenges and Solutions

Nearly 30,000 youth aged out of foster care in Fiscal Year 2009, which represents nine percent of the young people involved in the foster care system that year. This transition can be challenging for youth, especially youth who have grown up in the child welfare system.

Coordinating Systems to Support Transition Age Youth with Mental Health Needs

Research has demonstrated that as many as one in five children/youth have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Read about how coordination between public service agencies can improve treatment for these youth.

Civic Engagement Strategies for Transition Age Youth

Civic engagement has the potential to empower young adults, increase their self-determination, and give them the skills and self-confidence they need to enter the workforce. Read about one youth’s experience in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).