Cultural Assumptions Often Misleading
First Ever Statewide Survey Examining California's
Diverse Populations' Attitudes and Opinions Regarding Teen Pregnancy
SACRAMENTO, April 28, 2003 California's ethnically
diverse populations have as many similarities as they do differences
in their attitudes and opinions about teen sexuality and pregnancy prevention,
according to a public opinion poll conducted by the Field Research Corporation.
The Get Real About Teen Pregnancy campaign today released the results
of a statewide telephone survey of more than 1,300 adults in California,
with equal representation among African-American, Caucasian, Filipino,
Latino and Vietnamese respondents. The ethnic groups were chosen based
on their percentage of the overall population and rates of teen births
among each population. This survey was designed to identify the impact
that cultural identity may have on teenage pregnancy prevention in an
effort to help develop successful prevention strategies that are respectful
of cultural attitudes. The survey also tested a few assumptions about
various ethnic groups' attitudes and opinions about teenage pregnancy
prevention, finding that some stereotypical assumptions were incorrect.
Disparity of teen birth rates among ethnic groups makes this issue compelling.
For example, birth rates to Latino and African-American teens are disproportionately
higher than births to Caucasian teens. And teen births among some Asian
sub-populations are higher than any other ethnic group.
"The cultural stereotypes that are often applied to ethnic groups
about teen pregnancy prevention and adolescent health can do much more
harm than good," said Dawn Wilcox, Public Education Director for
Get Real. "For example, not all Latinos are opposed to contraception
and not all African-Americans are heavily influenced by religious leaders."
California's teen birth rate recently dipped below the national average
for the first time in more than 20 years. However, there were still
45 births per 1,000 teens between the ages of 15 and 19 in 2001, equaling
some 52, 966 babies born to teens. The birth rate for Latinos remains
the highest among California's populations with 86.2 births per 1,000
teens. African-Americans have the next highest birth rate with 53.3
births per 1,000 teens.
"We cannot become complacent even as we celebrate the good news
of the nation-leading decline of teen births in California," said
Norm Constatine, Ph.D., senior scientist at the Public Health Institute
in Berkeley. "As California's teen population grows, especially
within the highest teen birth rate groups, a conservative estimate projects
a 23 percent increase in the number of teen births within the next five
Key findings from the study include these similarities in public
opinion across ethnic groups:
-Across all ethnicities, parents are considered the most important source
of influence on teens' attitudes and behaviors. (Average of 69 percent
across all groups surveyed.)
-Nearly all parents acknowledged a higher comfort level talking with
their sons about sex and birth control than talking with their daughters,
although the same respondents agreed that parental influence is important
in helping to prevent teenage pregnancy. (Average of 60 percent feel
most comfortable talking to their sons, while an average of 54 percent
feel most comfortable talking to their daughters
-Californians continue to overwhelmingly support providing comprehensive
sexuality education in public schools. (Average of 85 percent across
-There is strong support across all groups for both the provision of
emergency contraception (EC) to adult women and provision of information
about EC to teens. (Average of 63 percent across all groups)
-Nearly all respondents agree that providing teens more employment,
educational and recreational opportunities would be the most effective
means to help prevent teenage pregnancy. (Average of 93 percent across
Key findings from the study include these differences in public opinion
across ethnic groups:
-More than any other ethnic group, African-Americans (71 percent) view
teen pregnancy as a very serious problem.
-One hundred percent of Filipinos interviewed believe that helping their
teen to prevent pregnancy was very important (compared to other current
issues parents of teenagers have to deal with) versus 88 percent of
African-Americans, 59 percent of Caucasians, 90 percent of Latinos,
and 62 percent of Vietnamese.
-Only 56 percent of Vietnamese respondents believe it's easy for adults
and teens to access information on pregnancy prevention, versus 70 percent
of Filipinos and Latinos, 80 percent of African-Americans, and 86 percent
-Eighty-six percent of Latino respondents believe it is very or somewhat
effective to make available free contraceptives to sexually active teenagers,
versus 82 percent of African-Americans, 80 percent of Caucasians, 77
percent of Filipinos and 71 percent of Vietnamese.
The survey was conducted by the Field Research Corporation in the fall
of 2002 as a follow up to qualitative research conducted in 2000 and
2001 which was released under the title "Voices of California:
A Multicultural Perspective on Teen Pregnancy."
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About Get Real
The Get Real About Teen Pregnancy Campaign was designed to increase
public understanding about realistic approaches all adults can take
to help address the problem of teen pregnancy. It promotes the concept
of "healthy adolescent sexuality" which includes providing teens with
accurate, comprehensive sexuality education to make responsible decisions,
as well as access to contraceptives to avoid unplanned pregnancies and
disease. The Get Real campaign is funded by a grant to Ogilvy Public
Relations Worldwide from The California Wellness Foundation.
About The California Wellness Foundation
Created in 1992 as an independent, private foundation, The California Wellness Foundations mission is to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention.