Home Institution

Occidental College

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development


This investigation examines the topic of teenage pregnancy in the context of public educational institutions in Valparaíso, Chile through the personal experiences and perspectives of adolescents who were pregnant or parents during their time in high school. This investigation is based in the theories of cultural capital, which describes how relations of social power and socioeconomic status impact an individual’s social advantages, and social imaginaries, which describe how symbolic representations are socially constructed to reflect a hierarchy of social power. Through this theoretical framework, the investigation seeks to understand the experiences of these students in their networks of familial, social, and institucional support. Public educational institutions have the potential to create an environment of tolerance and inclusion for pregnant students or students who are parents through policies that foster the collaboration among family members, partners, teachers, administration, and other students. In Chile, the public school system has historically made efforts to improve sexual education and attention to teenage pregnancy in educational environments. In spite of the policies under the Ministry of Education to establish institutional support for these students, many of their programs and efforts have fallen short of their goals because they do not effectively address the social inequalities of socioeconomic status and gender within the educational system. It is important to establish institutional support through a genuine understanding of the voices and experiences of teen parents in order to support these adolescents in their educational and personal goals for the future. This investigation incorporates five interviews with adolescent parents in Valparaíso, Chile, four mothers and one father, to explore their personal and academic experiences within the public educational system. The results delve into the complexities of their educational experiences, relationships within their social networks of support, and their reactions to dominant discourses. These youth hold a variety of perspectives in this regard, however, the investigation finds that pregnant teenagers or students who are parents could have more positive experiences in the public education system if schools attempt to foster an inclusive space for counter discourses. Additionally, the collaboration among various networks of support can give these teenagers the tools and ability to succeed in their dual roles as students and parents.


Education | Maternal and Child Health | Student Counseling and Personnel Services


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