The rate of teenage pregnancy has decreased greatly within the past years but it is still an immense problem which needs addressing. Pregnancy rates in the United States are still higher than those in other industrialized nations ââ‚¬” this is the case even though American teens are no more sexually active than teenagers of other nations. Recent statistics concerning the teen birthrates are alarming. About 560,000 teenage girls give birth each year. Almost one-sixth of all births in the United States are to teenage women and eight in ten of them are of unintended and unanticipated pregnancies. By the age of eighteen, one out of four teenage girls will have become pregnant.
The rate of teenage pregnancies may be high among low income African-American, Hispanics, and those in inner city ghettos; it is higher still among poor, white, young women who live in small cities. The question of which teenager is most likely to become pregnant can be answered by knowing attitudes towards the social consequences of adolescent parenthood. Those individuals understanding that parenthood at an early age will limit their chances of education; will most likely be influenced to not have an unplanned pregnancy, if they are highly motivated to become professionals in the future. The higher a woman’s level of education, the more likely she is to postpone marriage and childbearing. Adolescents with little schooling are often twice as likely as those with more education to have a baby before their twentieth birthday. Some 58% of young women in the United States who receive less than a high school education give birth by the time they are twenty years old, compared with 13% of young women who complete at least twelve years of schooling. Young women who become pregnant who become pregnant during high school are more likely to drop out due to the excessive workload which is hard to balance. A teen mother leaves school because she cannot manage the task of caring for a baby and studying, and a teen father usually chooses a job over school so that he can pay bills and provide for his child. Teen mothers usually have fewer resources than older mothers because they have had less time to gather savings or build their resumes through work experience, education, or training. Because of this, teen mothers are generally poor and are dependent on government support. The welfare system is usually the only support a teen parent will receive. Welfare benefits are higher for families with absent fathers or dependent children.
Emotional stress is also another issue which teenage mothers have to deal with along with financial strains. Teen mothers may have limited social contacts and friendships because they do not have time for anything other than their baby. Lack of a social life and time for herself may cause the teenage mother to become depressed or have severe mental anxiety. Depression may become worse for a teenage mother because she usually does not know much about child development or about how to care for their children. Children who are born to teenage mothers usually suffer from poor parenting. Also, children of teenage parents start being sexually active before their peers and they are more likely to become teenage parents themselves. These children may also suffer from financial difficulties similar to that of their parents. Children whose mothers are age seventeen or younger are three times as likely as their peers to be poor, and are likely to stay poor for a longer period of time. Children born to teenage mothers are also at an intellectual disadvantage.
Teen mothers face greater health risks than older mothers, such as anemia, pregnancy induced hypertension, toxemia, premature delivery, cervical trauma, and even death. Many of these health risks are due to inadequate prenatal care and support, rather than physical immaturity. The teenage mother is more likely to be undernourished and suffer premature and prolonged labor. Death rate from pregnancy complications are much higher among girls who give birth under age fifteen. Poor eating habits, smoking, alcohol and drugs increase the risk of having a baby with health problems. The younger the teenage mother is, the higher the chances are that she and her baby will have health problems. This is mainly due to late prenatal care, if any, and poor nutrition. An adolescent mother and her baby may not get enough nutrients and, because the mother’s body is not fully mature, and thus she may have many complications throughout the duration of her pregnancy.
Along with the mother, the children of teenage parents too often become part of a cycle of poor health, school failure, and poverty. Infants born to teenage mothers are at a high risk of prematurity, fragile health, the need for intensive care, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and mental retardation. Low birth weight is the most immediate health problem. Babies born to teenagers are often born too small, too soon. The death rate for babies whose mothers are under fifteen years of age is double that of babies whose mothers are twenty to thirty years old.
Some research indicates that the percentage of teenage birthrates has declined simply because fewer teenagers are having sexual intercourse and more adolescents are using contraceptives. Researchers say that the recent trends in sexual activity and contraceptive use are the result of a number of factors, including greater emphasis on abstinence, more conservative attitudes about sex, fear of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, the popularity of long-lasting birth control methods such as the contraceptive implant, Norplant, the injectable Depo-Provera, and even because of the economy. In addition, researchers state that young people have become somewhat more conservative in their views about casual sex and out-of-wedlock childbearing. Some attribute this change in attitude mainly to concern about sexually transmitted diseases. Others say that it is because of the involvement of conservative religious groups in the public debate over sexual behavior. Many researchers believe that the strong economy and the increasing availability of jobs at minimum wage have contributed to fewer births among teenagers. Americans, however, seem to be against some of the methods used by these various organizations to reduce the teen pregnancy rates. The most controversial aspect of adolescent pregnancy prevention is the growing movement to provide teenagers with easy access to contraceptives.
Teenage pregnancy does cause many problems for the mother, child, and economy. There are, however, some incidences where the mother overcomes this down-hill trend and makes a successful life for her and her child. The outcome of teenage pregnancy turns out better if the mother goes back to school after she has given birth. Staying in school may help to prevent teenage mothers from having a second pregnancy. The outcome is also better if the mother continues to live with her parents so that they can help to raise the child. Young, teen mothers need health care for themselves as well as their children. An adolescent mother also needs a great deal of encouragement to get her to remain in school. Single teenage mothers also need job training so that they can get a good job to support themselves and their children. Teen mothers need to be taught parenting and life-management skills and also need high quality and affordable daycare for their children.
Schools that provide daycare centers on campus reduce the incidence of teenagers dropping out of school. These school programs also decrease the likelihood that the teen mother will have more children. Because the government has begun to take action in preventing teen pregnancies, the rate has continued to decline. The large numbers of young people in America–as well as the values, health, education, skills they gain–will greatly affect the future of society.
The levels of education available to younger individuals is much greater than that which was available to their parents and the expectation is that young people take the opportunity and initiative to obtain higher levels of education. The numbers of women become pregnant during their teenage years is declining, although slowly, as many young women recognize the impact which childbearing has on education. It has also decreased as parents and communities discourage sexual activity, marriage and motherhood at young ages. These recent trends will most likely educate young adolescent teenagers about the consequences and risks of teenage pregnancy and reduce the incidence of teen pregnancy and childbirth altogether if continued.