David is one of those children who are under the custody of Eileen Sullivan Daycare Center. He is quite cute, loves playing with his beads in the rod hanging above his death. He seems to have good knowledge about how to play with all those colorful beads with his chubby fingers. Suddenly he stops playing and immediately he starts crying. The obvious reason seems to be that he wants to have his food. Despite the fact that this 14 year old would have no idea about the legal system and law; however, still, we know that it is his legal right to have breast fed by his mother, as much as he wants, as many times as he wants. The daycare authorities did feed him with bottled milk; however, David insists that he needs his mother more than food. Unfortunately, the daycare management people are not calling his mother but trying to divert David’s attention towards other stuff and until yet they have been unsuccessful since David seems to be seriously stubborn and is ready to compromise.
Daycare authorities cannot call his mother despite the fact that Michelle is in the first building from the right on the next street. Michelle is actually busy giving her algebra exam for which she has been preparing for the past few days. If all goes well then she would end up getting a B in algebra and would become the first one in her family to hold a graduate degree in her hand but she would also have to hold David in the other hand as well. No one knows what would be the future of Michelle and David. However, a couple of things are for sure. Firstly, the upcoming years would not be a piece of cake for both of them. Secondly, David and Michelle are not the only ones who are such a situation but there are many reported cases of teenage pregnancy everyday all around the world. This paper focuses on the causes and effects of teenage in attempt to examine it with a boarder perspective.
Since teenage pregnancies is a growing trend, happening in almost all parts of the world, more prominently in western societies, therefore there are several and diverse reasons that lead to the occurrence of teenage pregnancy. However, before discussing that, it is important to understand that this paper does not regard teenage sex as the main reason since not all teenagers have sex and even if they have sex does not always result in pregnancies. In fact, to prove this point, a study conducted in the United Kingdom reveals that more than two third of young people under the age of 16 do not have sex (Gillham, pp. 64-79). It is important here to note that United Kingdom has the highest teenage pregnancy ratio in the Western Europe. Therefore, it is quite understandable here to conclude that the major reason for teenage pregnancies is unprotected sex. This part of the paper focuses on what actually leads to unprotected sex by teenagers.
A study conducted in the United States with a sample of 515 teenagers revealed that more than 50 percent of the teenagers, prior to sexual intercourse had drug and alcohol intake that led them to avoid protection during sex (Roles, pp. 14-18). Prom night sex and post party sex are the most common examples. There are also obvious links of teenage pregnancies with income groups and poverty levels of the concerned family of the mother. According to a study in the United States (Cater & Coleman, pp. 17-19), girls from lower and lower middle class income groups are ten times likely to become mothers during their teenage as compared to upper middle class and upper class girls.
Obvious reasons are lack of education, awareness, poor family bonds, and others. In continuation with this above-mentioned research, another study presents another dimension of this discussion. According to this study, around 60 percent of the teenagers from lower income group families and 50 percent teenagers of higher income group families are sexually active (Cater & Coleman, pp. 17-19). Despite the fact that the usage of birth control mechanisms and awareness of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like AIDS is almost equally common, yet teenagers from lower income group families are at a higher risk to catch pregnancy as compared with others (Luker, pp. 34-49). It suggests that despite the fact that poorer teens use condoms and contraceptives, however, they are making mistakes in using them efficiently and effectively.
The darker side of the picture is that western countries have the highest numbers of rape, sexual abuse, or sexual harassment incidents, in contrast with any other part of the world. In fact, every one out two adult women in the United States would report any one out of three forms mentioned above, if asked. Unfortunately, rapes have also been a reason for teenage pregnancies but most of these remain behind veil and end in abortions and terminations. Surprisingly, research also suggests that girls who come from teenage mothers are 1.5 times more likely to step into the shoes of their mothers. Interestingly, girls coming from the foster care system are also at the same risk. In fact, data suggests half of these girls leaving the foster care system conceive a baby within maximum two years (Crooks & Baur, pp. 7-11).
Despite the fact that protection during the sex in forms of condoms is important and undeniable use of post sex contraceptives is also important. Their avoidance by teenage girls has also been a reason for the discussed topic. A study shows that 45 percent of the teenage girls who had experienced unprotected sex did not use any contraceptives after their first sexual intercourse (Crooks & Baur, pp. 7-11). The same study also concludes that the majority of the teenagers did not use contraceptives due to the pressure from their partners or peers. In fact, a lot of them feel ashamed in going to a general store to buy a condom thinking that what others would think including their parents and other legal obligations.
Statistics reveal that every year in the United Kingdom, more than 0.1 million of teenage girls report pregnancy. More importantly, 60 percent of these pregnancies result in live births and rest result in abortions and terminations (Miller, pp. 103-108). Even more shocking is the fact that either 90 percent of the teenage mothers who give birth to babies remain unmarried at the time of birth or their husband is not the biological father of the baby (Ojeda, pp. 1-4). These statistics are even more alarming for the United States, where every one out of every five sexually active teenage girls tests positive for pregnancy. Many other western countries face some very similar kind of a situation in terms of related data. Even these countries are aware of the fact that the effects are disastrous.
One of the major reasons of the increased burden on the foster care system of these countries is teenage pregnancies. This is because many teenage mothers either voluntarily or involuntarily leave their babies since they just cannot take care of the baby. Quite understandably, one cannot expect a teenage girl who is supposed to play with dolls and pets to take care of a baby. Ironically, teenage mothers are far more likely to have low income, low education, drug abusers, depressed, cigarette smokers, alcoholic and with a poor health than compared to other mothers of ages 20 to 35 (Alan Guttmacher Institute, pp. 26-74).
All these lead to higher mortality rates of infants, malnourished babies, and poor relationships amongst the families. Official research suggests that these children have a 50 percent more chance to repeat a grade and have ten times more likely to become a school drop out since most of the times these children are known as “problem child” (Alan Guttmacher Institute, pp. 26-74). Moreover, if a child is a dropout then he has only one percent chance of getting a good job which in turns result in poverty and increased crime rate.
Moreover, from a societal and economic point of view, both teenage mother and her child are a kind of a liability for the society. Generally, teenage mothers are less educated and less skilled. Moreover, there children also show the same characteristics due to many reasons including poor relationships, depression, low family incomes, poor health and others (Cherry, Dillon & Rugh, pp. 64-69). Therefore, when in today’s world, every nation is working hard to have more skilled and educated youth, these unplanned teenage pregnancies lead to decrease in the societal aggregate output thus increasing the pressure on the economy and state.
Alan Guttmacher Institute. U.S. teenage pregnancy statistics: overall trends, trends by race, ethnicity, and state-by-state information. Alan Guttmacher Institute, 2004. Retrieved on February 06, 2010: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/state_pregnancy_trends.pdf
Cater, Suzanne & Coleman, Lester. “Planned” teenage pregnancy: perspectives of young parents from disadvantaged backgrounds. Joseph Rowntree Foundation Policy Press, 2006.
Cherry, Andrew L., Dillon, Mary E., & Rugh, Douglas. Teenage pregnancy: a global view. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001.
Crooks, Robert, & Baur, Karla. Our sexuality. Cengage Learning, 2008.
Gillham, Bill. The facts about teenage pregnancies. Continuum International Publishing Group, 1997.
Luker, Kristin. Dubious conceptions: the politics of teenage pregnancy. Harvard University Press, 1997.
Miller, Barbara. Teen Pregnancy & Poverty: The Economic Realities. The Rosen Publishing Group, 1997.
Ojeda, Auriana. Teenage pregnancy: opposing viewpoints. Greenhaven Press, 2003.
Roles, Patricia. Facing teenage pregnancy: a handbook for the pregnant teen. CWLA Press, 2005.