La Primera Barrera Somos Nosotros: Society, Stigma, and Adolescent Sexual Health



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Drawing on the disciplines of Anthropology and Philosophy, this thesis examines the influence of societal conditions and attitudes on adolescent sexual health. Chapters I, II, and IV focus on the United States, where the adolescent pregnancy rate is 34.2/1000 , and Chapter III further supports my argument through my ethnographic research from Costa Rica, where the adolescent pregnancy rate is 55.2/1000 . In both countries, effective contraceptive technologies are available to teens, yet teen pregnancy rates remain high. I argue that teenage sex is not inherently harmful, but that negative perceptions of adolescent sexual behavior are damaging to teen sexual health. Through academic research in the United States and ethnographic interviews in Costa Rica, I emphasize how invisible barriers, including shame, rigid gender roles, socioeconomic inequality, and lack of opportunity, inhibit teen sexual healthcare access. Finally, I construct an ethical argument for adolescent reproductive healthcare access based on the existing duty of society to protect its young citizens.



ethnography, costa rica, adolescent sexual behavior, teen pregnancy, contraception, ethics