Teenage pregnancy is a topic that has always been reviewed by professionals and other stakeholders in various organizations. It is a topic that has an effect on almost all sectors on operation in the world at large. In this paper, the major causes and prevention of teenage pregnancies is looked into. It also tries to examine the trend of teenage pregnancies from the early eighties to date. Various effects of teenage pregnancies, prevention measures, and risk factors are discussed among other key issues related to teenage pregnancy.
Teenage pregnancy is a term that was coiled to refer to the pregnancies that occur at the ages of 19 years and below. Teenage pregnancy is a multifaceted issue with so many facts to put into consideration. At most times many young children, mostly below the age of 14, engage in sexual activity without having the full knowledge of its consequences. They are also the most likely group to be pressured into sexual intercourse either by peers or older people with ill motives (Arai, 2009). Not all teenagers are at a higher risk of teenage pregnancy. The highly endangered group are the adolescents who reach their maturity age fast before they acquire knowledge on the use of birth control measures.
There are various reasons that have been put forward as the major contributors of teenage pregnancies. Some of the reasons are tender age, where most teenagers engage in sexual activities at a very young age without having the full knowledge of the consequences of their activities. Non school attendance or poor performance in schools is also a contributing factor for the increasing teenage pregnancies in the world. It is normally evident that children who do not perform well in schools are most likely to be pregnant as compared to their bright counterparts. This is mostly taking place in the poor and developing nations, which are struggling to meet the high cost of living. Economic disadvantage among the nations is also a higher contributory factor. It is evident from statistics carried out that teenage pregnancy is high in most African nations when compared to western developed nations. This is because these nations do not have enough funds to fund various programs that aim at sensitizing the young people on the dangers of engaging in sexual intercourse at a young age. When these programs have been set up, most of the times they lack the necessary facilities to be used in the program. It has been noted that there is an increase in government expenditure allocated to programs that are concerned with taking care of adolescent mothers and their young ones. In addition, the government spends more money on various programs that aim at reducing the occurrence of teenage pregnancies.
Media has also been considered as a major contributor to the increasing teenage pregnancies. It is evident that the youths, who watch media programs most often, are most likely to engage in sexual acts at a younger age and hence become teenage mothers when compared to their other counterparts who do not watch these programs more often. Even though this fact exists, there are other positive effects of media (Chambers & Wakley, 2001). A study conducted among the youths on teenage pregnancy shows how some youths learnt about the causes, effects and prevention of adolescent pregnancy from the various discussions carried out in the media. Various stakeholders, at various times, question the effectiveness of the media in preventing teen pregnancies. This mostly occurs when the rate of such pregnancies rises in areas where the children are mostly exposed to various programs on teenagers.
Children born out of wedlock are most likely to fall into the trap of adolescent pregnancy. This is due to lack of guidance on good morals from one missing parent. Mostly, those who live with only a mother may tend to question why the father is not there.
Teenage pregnancies normally bring along other risks to the mother, the child and society at large. First, teenagers who get pregnant are fearful. They initially do not like to expose their nature to the entire public and may end up staying for long before seeking prenatal care. This fact poses health risk to both the mother and the child. Mothers can end up having high blood pressure and its related problems while the child can be born prematurely or has a very low birth weight.
Statistics carried out shows the world’s trends on abortion and teenage pregnancies. In the year 2006, it was found that out of 1000 women, 715 became pregnant. It was also evident that there was a rise in growth of teenage pregnancies among the sexually active teenagers as there was a 3 percent growth (Luker, 1996).
Teenage births in the year 2006 were about 42 births in every one thousand women. This was lower as compared 62 percent growth that had been recorded in the year 1991.
The number of teenage pregnancies that end up in abortion from the year 1986 to the year 2006 reduced by one-third among teenagers. Between the year 1988 and 2000, adolescent pregnancies declined in all states. It was also evident that the state with the highest number of teenagers records the highest number of adolescent pregnancies. California was ranked the highest.
Teenage pregnancies have a significant impact on the country’s economic growth. According to the study done by Johnson, there is a lower likely hood that pregnant teenagers will go back to school after giving birth. This therefore means that that child will not contribute much to the country’s economy. About 58 percent of adolescent women in the United States, who do not attain high school education, are most likely to give birth by the age of twenty. Those who are pregnant while in high school do not go back to school. Pregnancy rates in the United States went high from the year 1970 to early 1990s, going up by 21 percent among the teenagers. The pregnancy rate recorded a steady decline by the year 1990s. The decline among the youths was attributed to reduced engagement in sexual acts and the awareness of the availability of contraceptives. In the United States, the cost incurred on teenage pregnancies is about $7 billion every year (Gillham, 1997).
Research that was conducted shows that teenage pregnancy is normally perceived by politicians as a sign of a broken society. It is associated with moral decay. The study that was conducted emphasizes on the need to turn the misconceptions in the society. It claims that most adolescent mothers accept the situation and try to turn their lives in an effort to provide for their young ones. They claim that the problem of teenage pregnancy should be viewed as an opportunity to set up good things in the society. According to Dr. Claire, the thoughts of such children as poor, ignorant and unable to care for the kids they are bringing to the society often shifts the concern that the society should have on teenage pregnancy.
People who describe teenage pregnancy as a sign of moral decay have a focus on fighting adolescent pregnancy rather than looking at the social and economic effects that come with. Dr. Claire also claims that there has been a decline in teenage pregnancy in the recent past after the United States government initiated a strategy to look into teenage pregnancy, which was a global economic and social hazard. He also questions the idea that had been put forward by scholars that terms teenage pregnancies as not planned.
Various programs have been set up in various parts of the world that tries to look into the solutions available for teenage pregnancy. The unit of Health and Human Services (HHS) is devoted to reducing the occurrence of teenage pregnancies and to push for the need for young people to abstain from sexual acts before marriage. Their major initiative is to promote abstinence from sexual activities mostly for young children. They claim that sexual intercourse by young children contributes greatly to the increase in transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, adolescent’s pregnancy and sometimes HIV infection. They have established various programs that push for their aims (Miller, 1997). The abstinence education program which offers funding for various community activities that encourage abstinence. The programs that they fund mostly range from the community to schools where there target group can be easily met. At home they conduct test based projects where they demonstrate the actual reality of the consequences of teenage pregnancies. In schools, they teach students on what cause teenage pregnancy and the need to abstain from sexual activity at a younger age.
As the teenage pregnancies are declining, it is essential to continue boosting the teenage programs because there are more and more kids that go into teenage years in each year. Statistics show that these programs produce amazing results. The programs should be examined to ensure that they are up to date and inform on the needs of current generation. How one can achieve this is by engaging the youths themselves in forums that pertains to their issues. Issues of media, families, friends and school life and how it relates to their sexual life are discussed. This enables the program to comprehensively handle teenage problems.
Most of teenage pregnancies have been said by professionals to be unintentional. Very young people form the highest population of those severely affected by teenage pregnancies. Those that fall victims of teenage pregnancies are often from the disadvantaged backgrounds both socially and economically. Adolescent mothers are often blocked from attaining their life goals and aspirations.
Research that has been carried out around the world has established that scientific, detailed education on sexuality, having access to contraceptives, and youth educational programs play a very critical role in enabling young women to make the right choices that can prevent them from falling victims of adolescent pregnancies and its associated problems. The government has a crucial role to play in reducing this world menace. The studies conducted put more emphasis on the need for the governments to address the problems that teenage parents undergo other than their reason for become teenage mothers (Males, 2010).
The issue of dropping out of school, being victimised or abused and at some other extremes the health issues that they go through should be addressed fully. It is very vivid that teenage parenting can be sensible and valuable. It can even give hope and a future for the teenage mothers to struggle to give the best to their children in future (Cherry, 2001). Most young mothers often describe how the feeling of being a mother has taken them through various steps in life, which include having a feeling of strength, responsibility and being closer to the society than before. Teenage parenting should not be seen as a problem in itself but rather the social and economic shortcomings that brings out less desired outcomes.