Wednesday, July 11, 2007
This presentation is part of : Child and Adolescent Health Strategies
Living Without a Strong Father Figure: A Contextual Feature of the Experience of Having Become Sexually Active for Adolescent Mothers
Vicki Ellison Burns, Nursing, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA
Learning Objective #1: The learner will be able to understand how living without a strong father figure may impact adolescent females' experience of becoming sexually active.
Learning Objective #2: The learner will be able to see how attention to context provides a richer and deeper portrait of adolescent sexual behavior.


The purpose of this research was to describe teen mothers’ experience of having become sexually active and the contextual features of that experience. Most scholars who have studied teen sexual behavior have used quantitative methods and focused on testing their own constructs. In this descriptive phenomenological study, teen mothers were able to freely discuss their experiences. Parental consent for participation was obtained for participants under 18. The 10 participants were between 16 and 19 years old. Each participant had at least one living child, and one young woman was pregnant with a second child. Prior to data-gathering, literature relevant to the experience of having become sexually active, and also to the context of that experience, was set aside so that the phenomena could be intuited. Each participant took part in 3 one-on-one, audio-taped interviews. From the data, a critical contextual feature that was identified was living without a strong father figure. Unlike findings from previous literature, which have largely emphasized the importance of an absent father, data from this study were indicative that even a remote or dysfunctional relationship with a father or father figure who was present had a significant effect on the participants. These data could have important implications for prevention of early-onset sexual activity among teens as well as identification of those at risk.