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In most societies out of wedlock pregnancy and childbearing violate the optimal life course pattern of completion of schooling gaining employment marriage and then parenthood The phenomenon of adolescent pregnancy is particularly troubling though Although this occurrence often results in a personal as well as very real social dilemma it must be recognized from the outset that it is not the behaviors themselves that are problematic but their timing Adolescence is a period of intense physical emotional cognitive and social development For this reason pregnancy is not only potentially very damaging to the individuals normal development but it is also a great challenge to prevent because there is no one method of intervention that will address every adolescent individuals need It is primarily age that makes the adolescent transition to sexual activity and conception a problem Childbearing and the desire to experience sexual contact are biologically normal once physical maturation has occurred Dean 34 For this reason premature sexual activity is unlike the socially unacceptable behaviors from which it is grouped Illicit drug use alcohol abuse and delinquency are damaging at whatever age they occur and are never considered normative by the society at large Hardy 112 It is the age at which early sexual onset and pregnancy occur that by placing them generally outside marriage and interfering with what is perceived as a normative progression of life events defines them as problem or high-risk behaviors 114 The age at which an adolescent becomes a parent will in large part determine the severity of the disruption he or she will experience Such an interruption of the tasks of adolescent development truncating as it often does the completion of schooling and the opportunity to build a strong independent life contributes to the individual and social implications of premature parenting Dean 45 The issue of age therefore must be central to any analysis of adolescent conception Adolescence is a period of flux of change and of growth
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