The prevalence of teenage pregnancy worldwide has become a cause of major concern in recent years. It is viewed as an urgent crisis as the number of teenage girls bearing children outside of marriage increases. It affects the community and society at large. Some of the risk factors that lead to teen pregnancy are participation in unsafe sexual activities, poor performance and insufficient attendance of school, substance abuse, low family income, under use of contraception, deprivation and single parent families. There are several at risk circumstances related to teen pregnancy. These include higher dropout rates and less schooling, health and medical complications, poverty encircled life and decreased career aspirations.
Child bearing is the leading cause of teen girls dropping out of high school. Less than 50% of teen mothers complete their high school education and less than 2% attend college. Some young mothers have a second child within two years which further hinders them from attaining further education; this causes them to become economically dependent; the mother and her child face a lifetime of economic, educational and health challenges. Children born to teen mothers do worse in school as compared to those born to older mothers. Many of them repeat a grade, are placed in special education classes, experience milder education problems and have a lower probability of graduating from high school. These educational problems and disabilities can be attributed to the single marital status, high poverty prevalence and low level of education of the teenage mothers.
The negative effects teen pregnancy has on perinatal results and long term morbidity has resulted in it becoming a public health issue. Teen mothers have poor prenatal care since they fail to attend their prenatal appointments. They are at a higher risk of experiencing pregnancy complications, early marital breakdown if they are married and post natal depression. In addition, they tend to give birth to premature babies, low weight babies and babies who die in their first year of life. Furthermore, their infants experience higher infant mortality and morbidity rates as compared to those born to older mothers.
Teen pregnancy has several adverse effects and thus measures should be taken to reduce its prevalence. In addition, teen mothers should be provided with and encouraged to pursue opportunities to further their education and careers. This will go a long way in curbing the risk factors associated with teen pregnancy and in allowing them, and their children lead wholesome, productive lives.
Teenage pregnancy is a problem for all involved. It puts a great strain on the parents, especially the mother, and also on their parents who, more often than not, end up with the new baby in their family home, often having to look after it while the baby’s parents are at school, or out socializing and doing the things that teenagers do. Because teen parents are more likely to struggle to deal with parenthood, the child is also more likely to grow up with various problems.
Not enough effort is put into reducing teen pregnancy rates, and one reason for this is that teenage pregnancy rates in the US have generally declined since the 1950’s. But that isn’t good enough, because despite the decline, the US still has one of the highest teen birth rates in the industrialized world. The statistics may be better than they were, but this is not reason enough to ignore the problem, because it is still a very big problem. Besides the impact that teenage pregnancy has on all involved, the public costs related to it are estimated to be $10.9 billion every year. This is an obscene amount of money and the government should set a few billion aside to reduce teen pregnancy, and then the final bill would be so much lower and money would be saved overall.
Reducing teen birth rates has been centered on education, and this is certainly the most important tool with some young people. For those with poor schooling and living in deprived areas, particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds, education about safe sex could make the world of difference. However, there are plenty of white middle class teenage girls getting pregnant too, and this can’t be because they don’t understand contraception.
A lot of it must come down to how young girls are overly sexualized by the media, and put under pressure to become sexually active at a young age. Education also puts too much emphasis on just girls, and reinforces the fact that it is the mothers that are usually blamed for teen pregnancy while the fathers often take no responsibility and get away with it. Young men need to know that they can’t behave in this way, and understand the pressures of becoming a father, while girls need to become more assertive and be able to demand the use of contraception even if they’re drunk and their partner doesn’t want to use it.
We can’t escape the social responsibility that we have to our young people and their potential children, and should be prepared to put the funding in the reduce pregnancy rates. After all, it will bring down costs in the long term, and also mean that more people are living happier lives.