# The Measurement of Adolescents, II

## CONTENTS OF CURRICULUM UNIT 86.05.02

## Measurements of Two Adolescent Groups

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The main objective of this unit is to use statistical methods to try to get a clearer picture of the size, scope, and perhaps changing patterns concerning the problem of teenage pregnancy in New Haven. Beside measuring geographical location, age, and grade placement of the students, surveys were filled out by the students and analyzed in order to understand the viewpoints of the teenagers directly involved in the problems of pregnancy and the nurturing and care of a baby, while continuing their education. The second objective is to use the lesson plans to integrate statistics into the science classroom, with students measuring, calculating, graphing, and making sense of their findings.

The student enrollment at Polly T. McCabe Center for 1985-1986 was 200. This is almost the same enrollment as the preceding year when the number of students was 206.

The graphs and maps for the statistical comparison study done at the McCabe Center are at the end of this section. The issue of geographical location of students was of particular interest this year because of the relocation of the McCabe Center in September, 1985. After nineteen years at 111 Whalley Avenue, the McCabe Center moved to a renovated facility at 390 Columbus Avenue, adjacent to the Hill Health Center. By comparing the two maps, one can see at a glance that there is a heavier concentration of students living in the arbitrarily designated circle called Area I in 1985-1986.

The McCabe Center move to the center of Area I for the 1985-1986 school year may account for some of the increase of numbers of students in this area. The calculated 14% increase in Area I could mean that students who might ordinarily drop out because of the pregnancy have decided to attend McCabe Center because of the convenient location. However, without an exhaustive follow up on this data, one cannot assess the real cause, or causes, of this 14% increase. It could simply mean that there has been an increase in the rate of teenage pregnancy in this area. Of course, the many causative factors that might cause a rate increase could also be studied. The other areas of the map for 1985-1986 show only a slight decrease of 1%, 2%, or 3% from the previous year, except for Area VI which showed a slightly larger decrease of 6% student concentration from the previous year. This may not be significant, or there may be some transportation problem involved, since Area VI represents the outlying areas of the city. (See Graph I)

The comparison of the age distribution of the two groups from 1984-1985 and 1985-1986 showed very little difference. The average age of the 206 students in 1984-1985 was 15.81. This was calculated by adding all the ages and dividing by the number of students. ( ) In 1985-1986 the average age of the students was 15.91. When one looks at Graph #2, the difference that does exist is apparent because the 1984-1985 graph is more dispersed or spread out on both sides of the mean, while the 1985-1986 curve has lost the extreme values at each end (age 11 and age 20) that were present in the previous year, and shows less dispersion and a higher peak at the mean. These facts are shown mathematically by calculating and charting the standard deviation from the mean which is 1.63 in 1984-1985, and 1.37 in 1985-1986. However, the average ages are so close, and the dispersion of the curve so close too that one cannot make any inferences concerning statistical differences in these two populations. But there was a percentage drop in students under fifteen years of age from 19% in 1984-1985 to 15% in 1985-1986. Hopefully, this would be the very beginning of a trend in this direction. However, the T test, which proves the validity of differences between two populations, showed that there was no statistical difference between these two groups.

The comparison of grade distribution in the school between 1984-1985 and 1985-1986 was also quite similar, as one might expect because of the close correlation in ages between the two groups. However, Graph III shows the high point of each graph in a different grade. The grade that has the greatest number of students (the mode) is the ninth grade in 1984-1985. In 1985-1986, the mode has shifted to the tenth grade. This probably means that there were fewer students repeating the ninth grade, since the ages of the two groups are approximately the same.

Graph IV represents the numbers of students who were enrolled in various high schools or middle schools before entering Polly T. McCabe Center. The years 1984-1985 and 1985-1986 are again contrasted on the bar graph. It is difficult to interpret the change in numbers in the three major high schools because Lee High School had already phased out some of its programs and these students had gone to the other high schools. In the middle schools there was little change within each school, but there was a total drop from 25 students in 1984-1985 to 18 students in 1985-1986.

One statistic not studied in 1984-1985, but studied this year, was the place where students received pre-natal care. Approximately 44% of the students used the clinic at Yale New Haven Hospital, 23% used Hill Health Center, 11% used the Hospital of St. Raphael, 9% used Community Health Care Plan, 7% used private physicians, 6% used Fair Haven Community Health Clinic, and some students used various other places. The emphasis on pre-natal care is important to the young mothers and the babies. In a study by Ooms, about 10% of the teenagers with pre-natal care gave birth to low birth rate babies “and of the teenage mothers with no prenatal care, 26% had low birthweight infants”. In the study done at McCabe last year on 118 babies, only 10.1% of the adolescent mothers had a low birthweight newborn. (below 5.5 lbs.)

One of the methods for preventing teenage pregnancy that is often mentioned is the teaching of sex education in the schools. Fifty-nine students at Polly T. McCabe Center participated in a survey designed and given by Lillian Townsend, a staff member at the school. Some sex education is taught in some of the New Haven schools where it is called Family Life Education. In the unsigned surveys, 95% of the students said that they would want their children to have Family Life Education courses when they are in school. Five percent were undecided, and nobody said no. 86% thought boys and girls should take the classes together. 88% thought that parents should be notified that the classes were being taught, but only 60% thought the parents should be able to attend a class. 78% thought that parents should not be allowed to keep the child from attending the classes. Most thought the classes should begin in the middle schools. 17% thought 5th grade would be the best grade to start. Family Life Education could include not only sex education but also decision making skills that would be so helpful to the pre-adolescent and the adolescent.

Child care is of great concern to the adolescent mother and is necessary if she is to continue her education. A sample Child Care Survey which 1 wrote and gave to 43 students is included with a bar graph of some of the results. The first nine questions were only answered by the students who had already had their babies. The 23 students who were still pregnant only answered question 10. Some of the students wrote in answers on the back of the paper when asked in question 10 about an ideal plan for child care while they are in school. Most of the students said they needed someone they trusted, and most said they already had found someone to be trusted and take care of the baby the same way they would. For example: “I want someone to take care of him like I do. I feed him, I talk to him, I bathe him, I play with him.” This year, for the first time, eight students from Polly T. McCabe Center are able to bring their babies to the Mary Sherlock Day Care Center which is adjacent to the school. These young mothers are able to see their babies during the school day. There is, however, only the limited number of babies that can be cared for, because this Day Care Center also serves the surrounding community.

More emphasis has been placed this year on the role of the male in preventing teenage pregnancy. There have been talks in the schools, posters and other publicity involving the males more in the decision making process of this problem. In a survey that 27 McCabe students participated in called “The Teen Fathers Needs Assessment”, the emphasis was on involving the baby’s father in a job training program. According to the results of the survey, 33% of the fathers were still in school. 67% of the young mothers thought the baby’s father might be interested in a job training program.

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