Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 642–655 | Cite as

The Stigma of Being a Young Parent: Development of a Measurement Tool and Predictors

  • Whitney S. RiceEmail author
  • Lila A. Sheira
  • Elizabeth Greenblatt
  • Madeline Blodgett
  • Kate CockrillEmail author
Original Paper



Many young parents perceive stigma from their communities and experience barriers and discrimination in school and healthcare, which may result in health and social consequences. The current study develops and validates a Young Parent Stigma Scale (YPSS), and examines score variation.


Young parent stigma was conceptualized using literature review and stakeholder interviews. We generated a pool of 66 items and conducted cognitive interviews with 12 young parents to pre-test and subsequently revise the items. A revised self-administered survey was completed by 370 parenting youth aged 13–24 across the USA.


We conducted exploratory factor analysis to develop a 23-item scale with five subscales: internalized, enacted, anticipated, felt and racialized stigma. Each subscale had low to moderate correlation with the others (0.41–0.59), and demonstrated adequate internal reliability (α = 0.64–0.88). The total scale one-factor model loaded similarly as the five factor model (α = 0.92). YPSS total scale scores varied by sociodemographic characteristic, with male gender, lower socioeconomic status, northeast and southern residence, non-Christianity, and Arab/Middle–Eastern descent associated with higher stigma. Psychosocial experiences (postpartum mental and emotional well-being, and intimate partner violence) were also associated with higher total YPSS scale scores.


The YPSS total scale and its subscales demonstrated good psychometric properties and this study highlights the groups of adolescent parents most affected. The YPSS can be used to measure the latent construct of young parent stigma and the subscales can be used independently to measure aspects of this construct.


Stigma Adolescent parents Psychometric assessment Survey research Mental health 



We would like to thank the young parents and young parent advocates who courageously shared stories and experiences from their lives with us. We would also like to acknowledge following people for their support of this paper: Steph Herold, Edward Frongillo, Ushma Upadhyay, and Antonia Biggs.


This study was funded by the Ford Foundation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Whitney S. Rice declares that she has no conflict of interest. Lila A. Sheira declares that she has no conflict of interest. Elizabeth Greenblatt declares that she has no conflict of interest. Madeline Blodgett declares that she has not conflict of interest. Kate Cockrill declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This manuscript does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors. The methods and protocols for this study were reviewed and approved by Allendale Investigational Review Board. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10826_2018_1306_MOESM1_ESM.docx (30 kb)
Supplementary Information


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health EducationEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global MedicineUniversity of California at San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.Sea Change ProgramTides FoundationBerkeleyUSA

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