It has been substantiated over and over again in research that child abuse interrupts the normal health development of children. It is no surprise then that young girls searching for the love and affection they are not getting at home are reaching out in inappropriate ways. Since their world is so chaotic, their coping skills are minimal, and they feel powerless, too many young girls are becoming pregnant, thus adding another difficult dimension to their lives.
A study of 535 pregnant and parenting adolescents who were recruited from school and community programs was conducted in the state of Washington. In this study, 62% had experienced contact molestation, attempted rape, or rape prior to their first pregnancy. On average, the girls were 9.7 years old at first molestation with 24% reporting that their first such experience occurred at age five or younger. The mean age of the offender was 27.4 years. Over half, 54% were victimized by a family member. Not surprisingly, the abused young women reported more emotional abuse and physical maltreatment in childhood. For many pregnant adolescents, a history of physical maltreatment and sexual victimization may have undermined their healthy decision making which, in turn, likely contributed to their pregnancies.
This is just one more aspect of how America’s children and families are impacted by child abuse.
 “Adolescent pregnancy: The role of sexual abuse,” National Resource Center on Child Sexual Abuse, Vol.4, No.6, November/December 1995.