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.
To understand which problems worry first world countries the most today, it is usually enough to check the headlines in major newspapers. Although mass media tends to pay a lot of attention to one problem while completely ignoring others, still referring to them is a sound way to learn about major social, political, and cultural issues. Today, along with news about diplomatic scandals, wars, epidemics, and economic crises, headlines are often dedicated to teen pregnancy, which is a real scourge of modern American society.
By teen pregnancy, experts usually understand it to be pregnancy among young women between the ages of 15 and 17 years. In 2013, on average, 13 teens out of 1,000 peers were pregnant. According to recent studies, teen pregnancies have declined in the United States, but the teenage representatives of some social and/or ethnic groups seem to be in the risk zone; for example, African-American and Hispanic teens in the U.S. are two to three times more likely to become pregnant than Caucasian teens. Moreover, it is reported that nearly one in five teen births is a repeat birth, which means that pregnancy for these teens is not a first time occurrence (HealthCommunities.com).
But what risks do teenage to-be mothers face? In fact, being a teenage mother is truly difficult, even compared to regular pregnancy. For example, teens are at a high risk of not getting appropriate prenatal care, as they are often afraid to tell their parents about their pregnancies, and cannot afford prenatal care themselves. Pregnant teens often get high blood pressure, or pregnancy-induced hypertension, as well as preeclampsia much more often than pregnant women who are in their 20s or 30s. Teens are also more likely to give birth to premature babies, meaning that the pregnancies do not last for the regular 40 weeks; also, teenage mothers are exposed to higher risks of having low-birth-weight babies (usually 1,500 to 2,500 grams, and sometimes even less). A very-low-birth-weight baby weighs less than 3.3 pounds. Among other risk factors for teen mothers are STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases), postpartum depression, and so on (WebMD).
Along with health problems, teenage mothers are usually less likely to finish high school, which decreases their chances to get adequate higher education, and then find a job to sustain themselves, and their child. It means, in its turn, that teenage mothers are more likely to live in poverty, be a single parent (and also divorce if they get married to the father of their child). Also, since teenage pregnancy is often unwanted and unexpected, teenage mothers are often more likely to abuse or neglect their babies (Sutter County).
Teenage pregnancy is a complicated modern phenomenon that requires the attention of governmental and non-governmental organizations, psychologists, and first of all, parents. Although the tendency of teenage pregnancy in the U.S. seems to be gradually decreasing, certain ethnic and/or social groups still remain vulnerable to this phenomenon. Becoming pregnant as a teenager leads to a number of health problems (such as preeclampsia, high blood pressure, STDs, depression, and so on), as well as to social consequences, such as divorce, a low quality of life, child abuse, and so on.
“Teen Pregnancy, Consequences of Teenage Pregnancy.”HEalthCommunities.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.
“Teenage Pregnancy: Medical Risks and Realities.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.
“Teen Pregnancy – Teen Pregnancy: It’s Everyone’s Problem.” SutterCounty. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.
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