Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Arvind Singhal


Teenage pregnancy is a highly complex problem and the arrival of a baby affects multiple lives - directly and indirectly - in a rippling chain reaction. The odds of finishing school or college are highly stacked against teenage parents, and the future of the children who are born to teen parents is fraught with challenges. Rates of teenage pregnancy are especially high among Hispanics, and even higher among those who live in the border city of El Paso, This research project was an exploration of what communicative behaviors keep some young Hispanic women in the city of El Paso free of teenage pregnancy (labeled as Positive Deviants) while their peers face the issue.

Positive deviants (PDs) were screened through a sieve of multiple criteria: They had to be Hispanic females enrolled in college, have no children, have a mother or a sister who became pregnant as a teenager, belong to low socio-economic status, and involved in a long-term relationship with a boyfriend or partner. Some 764 screening surveys were administered and 22 participants were selected for in-depth interviews, participating sketching, and life-mapping activities. From the interviews, both the social network and the intrapersonal communication were analyzed to find key PD practices.

Communicative practices that were identified as being effective in the prevention of teenage pregnancy included: The importance of parents emphasizing the importance of their daughters' finishing school; the setting of clear expectations about work-home and in-class/out-of-class activities in consultation with the teenager; an emphasis on extracurricular activities that reinforce goals and expectations; reinforcement and support of such messages through other family members; the role of trusted male members to provide affirmations, guidance, and direction for the teens; harnessing the role of older siblings through trusting relationships; and if talking about teenage pregnancy, emphasizing the gains achieved without a pregnancy instead of talking about loss through failure.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

89 pages

File Format


Rights Holder

Alejandra Margarita Diaz Salamanca

Included in

Communication Commons