In the US, teen pregnancy rates have been decreasing in the last decade even though current rates remain twice as high as those found in other industrialized nations (Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1994). In spite of decreasing rates, among African American teenagers, the pregnancy rate is particularly high. In 1996, the pregnancy rate was 178.9 per thousand among African-American females aged 15 to 19 years, compared with a pregnancy rate of 82.6 among whites (Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1999). Additionally, on the basis of the findings of the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth, it was determined that African American females (48%) aged 15 to 17 were more likely than their white (34%) counterparts to have had
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As reported by Dervarics (2004), disconnected teens are most often those youth who are high school dropouts, young parents, and juvenile offenders. Dervarics indicated that in 2003, 8 percent of U.S. residents ages 16 to 19, about 1.4 million youth, were not in school and not holding a job, with the number of disconnected youth among African Americans and Hispanics at 12 percent, double the rate for whites. The extensive presence of minority youth in the disconnected population has increasingly brought attention to what has now become identified as a traditionally "hidden" American problem.
Some of the factors identified by Dervarics (2004) as contributing to disconnection include the ongoing presence of a stagnating economy, with minority youth being those that are “the last hired, first fired, and last rehired.” Accompanying difficulties in the job market, as reported by Dervarics, African American youth also are experiencing higher-than-expected school dropout rates overall, particularly in urban areas with large numbers of minority youth. However, as noted by Dervarics, of even greater concern are those youth between ages 18 and 19, who are at the outer edge of the traditional age for high school attendance. Among