Dating violence among emancipating foster youth
Youth in foster care frequently experience changes in their placement, which leads to uncertainty and instability.According to government estimates for 2011, 47 percent of youth in foster care were placed in a non-relative foster family home.Teens and young women are especially vulnerable to this type of violence: women age 16 to 24 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault.Examples of reproductive coercion include birth control sabotage, such as hiding a partner’s birth control pills, intentionally breaking a condom, or not withdrawing when that was the agreed-upon method of birth control.
The risk of early pregnancy remained with these young women even after they transitioned out of foster care.However, data show that unwanted pregnancies outnumber wanted pregnancies among foster youth and unwanted births far outnumber wanted births.The Midwest Evaluation revealed that more than two-thirds of the foster youth who had been pregnant described their pregnancies as “unwanted,” compared with just over half of their pregnant peers.It is quite notable that so many more foster youth than their counterparts not in care describe their pregnancies and childbirths as unwanted.
This suggests that youth in foster care may be experiencing barriers to reproductive health and pregnancy prevention care and education that youth not in care do not face.
The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) has initiated a project to examine the problem of unwanted pregnancy among foster youth.