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Citation:Levine, J., & Pollack, H. (2001). Academic and behavioral outcomes among the children of young mothers. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 63, 355-369.

In this report the researchers investigate the effects of early motherhood on children's academics and behavior and attempt to determine if controlling for background factors made a difference in the effects. ResearchersÕ suggest from their data that having a mother who began childbearing in her teens associated with early sexual activity, fighting, truancy, repeating a grade, and lower math, reading, and vocabulary test scores. However, when researchers controlled for background factors, they found far fewer significant effects of teen parenthood on academic variables. Children of teen mothers do show worse behavioral outcomes than do their comparable peers. They used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), which followed a large sample of young men and women starting in 1979; respondents were interviewed annually until 1995, after that biannually. Children born to the female participants in the NLSY were interviewed and tracked starting in 1986. The researchers looked at the children's cognitive tests, grade repetition, and their behaviors as adolescents, including repeating a grade in school, having sex before the age of 16, truancy, fighting in school, and smoking marijuana. All of those variables were analyzed for relationship to maternal age at first birth. Background factors such as the educational levels of grandmothers, mothersÕ place of residence, and grandmothersÕ employment status were controlled for. Though data came from self-reports, which were occasionally inconsistent, this study does contribute to our understanding of the effects of teen parenthood and how they are passed on to children.

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