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February 10, 1999

Sexual Abuse and Adolescent Pregnancy

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Interim CoeditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1999;281(6):511-513. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-281-6-jac80022

To the Editor: The title of the Commentary by Dr Elders and Ms Albert,1 "Adolescent Pregnancy and Sexual Abuse," leads the reader to think of the issue in terms of the classic definition of sexual abuse, that is, harm or the threat of harm committed to a minor child by parent or guardian, person or persons responsible for their care.2 It is not until midway through the article that one learns that in a majority of these pregnancies, "Boyfriends who are considerably older than their adolescent girlfriends have been found to be responsible." In most jurisdictions, that moves the abusive incident out of the child protection system and into the criminal justice system as the crime of statutory rape. Even more puzzling is that, while Elders and Albert clearly outline the responsibility for reporting "past sexual abuse," they are hesitant to have clinicians report the crime of statutory rape.