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Jan 12, 2023

Host, Dr. Catherine Cerulli, a Psychiatry professor at the University of Rochester, is joined by her guest, Justin Russotti, Ph.D., a licensed clinical social worker and child maltreatment researcher. Dr. Russotti’s research focuses on the intersection of development and mental health specific to teen pregnancy. Child maltreatment is the strongest predictor of teen pregnancy and survivors are twice as likely to experience adolescent childbirth as opposed to those who do not experience childhood abuse and neglect. Dr. Russotti discusses his research with the Mt. Hope Family Center. He found that adolescent substance use behavior and pregnancy desire are the strongest indicators in determining a survivor’s risk for adolescent pregnancy. Focusing on these risk factors in maltreated adolescents can help reduce teen pregnancy occurrence. Further, children of adolescent parents are at greater risk of maltreatment due to the stress of a young person raising a child, so it is imperative to offer comprehensive intervention programs that target adolescent parents and teaches them practices to become successful parents, while addressing the many other challenges they face such as school responsibilities and socioeconomic challenges. The episode also discusses ways frontline providers can help their patients and clients become great parents, including tailoring interventions to the individual, addressing their abuse history, and increasing understanding of the diverse experiences maltreatment survivors encounter. The episode closes with a brief discussion of reproductive social justice, reproductive coercion, and the need for accessible birth control methods.