Juvenile incarceration in an adult correctional facility as a risk factor for adolescent childrearing?

Introduction: Recent trends in reproductive rights have contributed to lasting concerns about adolescent childrearing in American society. Beyond being generally unprepared when raising a child, having a child during adolescence is associated with a variety of environmental, social, and psychological consequences for both the parents and the child. It is important to understand the factors contributing to adolescent childrearing. Although research has identified many factors that contribute to adolescent childrearing, a notable gap remains when considering the role of the correctional system and, in particular, the age‐specific effects of confining adolescents in adult correctional facilities.

Methods: The current study examined the age‐specific effects of time spent in adult correctional facilities from 13 to 34 years of age on childrearing between 14 and 35 years of age using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth‐1997 (NLSY97). The NLSY97 is a nationally representative sample of Males (51%) and Females (49%) born in the United States. Respondents of the NLSY97 were interviewed about life events beginning at age 7 and continued to participate in the study as recently as 2021.

Results: The results of the lagged growth curve models suggest that the time spent incarcerated between 13 and 17 years of age heightens the risk of childrearing between 14 and 18 years of age, an effect that is not observed during adulthood.

Conclusion: Overall, the results suggest that the conditions adolescents are exposed to during incarceration in an adult correctional facility could contribute to a heightened likelihood of adolescent childrearing.