Teenage Pregnancy is a very controversial issue that seems to be on a rise in today’s world. It has now become a universal issue. What is teenage pregnancy? It is having a baby before reaching adulthood i.e. between the age group of 13-17.
Teens get pregnant mostly due to unplanned sex or lack of precautionary measures. A lot of research shows numerous factors that bring about teen sexual activities, childbearing, contraceptive behavior and pregnancy. Teenagers these days are increasingly involved in sexual activities, as they are inquisitive or want to seek pleasure. In spite of ever-increasing awareness about diseases caused by sexual intercourse and protection during sexual diseases, teenage pregnancy is on the rise (Roy, 2011).
Teenage pregnancy brings drastic changes in one’s life. The world of the teenage is turned upside down. Not only parenting is a huge responsibility, but also the body changes occurring as a result of it are harder to deal with for teenagers than for an adult pregnant woman. Dealing with this requires a lot of maturity, humility, and responsibility.
Similarly, social ramifications of teenage motherhood are often hard and depressive, and young girls are usually not mature enough to deal with them. Schooling and career goals are very much affected. Poverty, low self-esteem and unemployment are some of the negative out comes faced by unfortunate childbearing teens.
Usually, mothers depend on their families to assist in raising the infant, due to which family structures often suffer. Normal pastimes that are enjoyed by teenage girls like going to the mall, sports and dating are affected due to physical limitations, which frustrate the victim.
The effects of teenage pregnancy are numerous. Girls, and rarely both the parents, end up making decisions that they are not ready to make; whether to keep the baby or to give it up for adoption, or just have an abortion. In turn, following are a few of the effects of each of these decisions (Effects of teen Pregnancy, 2007).
Anxieties disorders, recurring feeling of regret and sleep disturbance etc. are some of the effects of abortion or giving up of the baby. Women who have abortions are at a high risk for psychiatric diseases. It is very common for such patients to resort to repression to cope with the ordeal. Stress, depression and particular avoidance behavior are observed in post abortion patients (Psychological effects of teen rape and abortion, 2009).
Pregnancy and abortion inflicts great amount of shame or guilt on teens, which stops them from seeking help. They are left to deal with the issue on their own. Sometimes, feelings of guilt continue through many years (Psychological effects of teenage pregnancy, 2011).
Pregnant teens mostly cannot figure out where to turn to when they discover that they are pregnant. They end up trying to hide the pregnancy as long as possible, which results in bad prenatal care. The teens do not understand the significance of proper and healthy nutrition for good health for them and the baby. They also tend to ignore the major effects of alcohol and drugs. Due to lack of knowledge, many activities that a teen performs could be too strenuous for both the mother and the baby.
Developing and under-developed countries, both suffer from this issue; but developed countries like UK and US have the highest rates. According to research, adolescent childbearing is more common in the United States (22 women reported having had a child before age 20) than in Great Britain (15 ), Canada (11 ) France (6 ) Sweden (4 ) (Darroch, Singh & Frost, 2001, p. 244-250, 281).
A very minute figure of teenage pregnancies is resolved through abortions in the United States but then again, because of their high teenage pregnancy rate, U.S. teenagers have the highest abortion rate. Research has shown that around 82 teen pregnancies are unplanned (Huete, 2010).
One in every ten children is the outcome of teenage pregnancy. Surveys show that teenage pregnancy in United States approximately costs $7 billion. A 23 decrease in the pregnancy rate was witnessed in America; however, teenage pregnancy rates increased significantly in the US (Huete, 2010).
What causes teenage pregnancy? Reasons in developed countries differ from those of underdeveloped countries. In the developed countries, inadequate sex education among the teenagers, alcohol abuse, higher rates of poverty and lower education levels lead to the teenage pregnancy. On the other hand, in developing countries financial constraints, media exhibiting sex, early child marriages, sexual or domestic violence and pornography can be considered as some of the factors leading to unwanted pregnancy among teenagers (Cherry, 2011, pp. 83, 185).
Other than the above-mentioned reasons, additional factors contributing to teenage pregnancy are
Lack of Parental Guidance: In countries like Pakistan and India, parents usually avoid talking about such thin-skinned issues in front of their children. In some cases, parents provide false education on related topics or discourage talking about it openly; cut short it is considered a Taboo in some prominent Asian countries. Sex is considered a forbidden topic in such countries, which leads to curiosity among teenagers and hence, they pursue such acts and gather information from wrong sources.
Inadequate Sex Education: Evidence shows that 80 of the teenage pregnancies are accidental. As teenagers, do not have much information about safe sex. Either they do not have access to the traditional contraception methods on how to prevent pregnancy or they are too scared or embarrassed to seek help.
Exploitation by Older Men: Teenagers who date older men tend to lose virginity at an early age, as the innocent mind is manipulated very expertly and as a result, they suffer from unwanted pregnancy. Rape is another major factor leading to not needed pregnancy.
Adolescent Behavior: In Western Countries, peer pressure is a significant factor leading to teenage pregnancy as they start dating at a very young age i.e. 12. It is evident from the research, 29 of the teenagers get pressurized to have sex, 33 of the teenagers feel sexually active at a younger age, and media plays a very vital role in heightening these feelings (Huete, 2010).
Economical and Social Issues: Teenage Pregnancy in poor and developing countries are usually the result of poor socio economic facilities. Out of poverty and desperation, girls get involved in such activities. In countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, early marriages are preferred and women trafficking are very common.
A few of the other causes could be the teenagers that are neglected at home and hence, look for acceptance through other means (Huete, 2010). However, teenagers who belong to high elite class or have a wonderful affectionate family, tend to get involved in such activities just for the sake of a few minutes pleasure. Surveys also show that teenagers usually prefer in having sex without precaution.
Another factor leading to teen pregnancy could be an unstable family structure, such as that of separated parents. In such cases children, especially girls, crave for affection and acceptance from others and hence, are more prone to getting exploited in their sensitive condition by boys flirting around for mere pleasure.
Recent observations show that since 1993, teenage pregnancy rates are on the rise. As a result, babies born out of wedlock are at a greater risk of not finishing high school, neglect, abuse and also of becoming teen parents themselves at an early age. Therefore, it is very important to create awareness regarding prevention of sexual intercourse at an early age.
Educating teenagers on teen pregnancy and its consequences can be a great help in preventing young pregnancies. Teenagers who think parenting is glamorous need to realize that parenting means that you stop living for yourself and start living for the kid. Cut short, it is like giving up your individual hobbies and personal aims in life.
On the other hand, if they feel sexually active they need to have precautionary measures beforehand or seek help from parents, but teenagers usually feel embarrassed to ask their parents, therefore abstinence is the hundred percent effective method of birth control. (Ryan, 2011)
It is very important that parents have an open relationship with their kids and talk freely about such stuff to satisfy their curiosity. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy encourages parents to become more aware of their teen’s lives. In addition, those parents should keep a record of their teen’s hobbies and social circle and do not stereotype sex as a topic considered Taboo. It is important that parents make clear in the minds of their teens the norms and values regarding sex.
Parents should know what their children are watching, reading and listening to. If not, it is important that they talk to the teens about what media portrays and what parents think about it.
Similarly, let your children know that their first priority should be education and that achieving dreams and goals in life is very important for success.
If you are a single parent, it is important that you express your love openly and tell them frequently that they mean a lot. Be courteous and respectful towards your children and listen to what they have to say.
Teenage pregnancy is no more a secret. Moreover, what seems to be working most is that parents and media must send a strong message to teens and make them realize that they should remain abstinent but must also have access to contraception.
Cherry, A, L, 2001, teenage pregnancy: a global view, Cherry, A, L, Mary, E, Dillon and Rugh, D, retrieved on March 17, 2011, from http://www.library.cornell.edu/resrch/citmanage/apa
Darroch, J, E, Singh, S, Frost, J, J, 2001, ‘Differences in teenage pregnancy rates among five developed countries: the roles of sexual activity and contraceptive use,’ Family Planning Perspective, vol. 33, no. 6, pp. 244-50, 281, retrieved on March 17, 2011, from
Effects of teen Pregnancy, 2007, teenage pregnancy help, retrieved on March 17, 2011, from http://www.teenpregnancyhelp.net/effects-of-teen-pregnancy.html
Huete, A, 2010, ‘Teen Pregnancy,’ OPPAPERS.COM, retrieved on March 17, 2011, from http://www.oppapers.com/essays/Teen-Pregnancy/436188
Psychological Effects of Teenage Pregnancy, 2011, eHow ,retrieved on March 17, 2011, from http://www.ehow.com/list_6008163_psychological-effects-teenage-pregnancy.html#ixzz1GpyInBmC
Psychological effects of teen rape and abortion, 2009, Teenage pregnancy, retrieved on March 17, 2011 from http://www.troubledteensinfo.com/Teenage_Sexuality/Teen_Pregnancy/Psychological_Effects_of_Teen_Rape_and_Abortion/
Roy, S, 2011, ‘Teenage Pregnancy Facts,’ dirwell health, retrieved on March 17, 2011, from http://topics.dirwell.com/health/teenage-pregnancy-facts.html
Ryan, A, 2011, ‘Ways to Prevent Teenage Pregnancy,’ eHow family, retrieved on March 17, 2011, from http://www.ehow.com/way_5273434_ways-prevent-teenage-pregnancy.html