Teen pregnancy is a growing issue. For one, in some cases, it has become normalized by society to not only engage in sexual acts at a younger age. Even though some individuals may receive scrutiny over their early pregnancy, on a grand scale, it isn’t scrutinized enough. What adds to the complacency over this situation is the fact that teenage pregnancy has tremendously declined from generations prior. With this, the general public feels as if it is not that big of a dilemma. I will be examining not only why it still is a big problem, but also a series of things that teenage pregnancy effects.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2017, “194,377 babies were born to women aged 15–19 years, for a birth rate of 18.8 per 1,000 women in this age group.” Teen pregnancy, pregnancy under the age of 20 has become a growing epidemic, and it has become normalized in young culture. Every day on social media there is a new post, snap, or news about another young girl becoming pregnant. Teenagers aren’t educated on the consequences of engaging in sexual activities, and unaware of how to practice safe sex. Also, teens are ignorant of the major life adjustments that have to be made in order to care for a child, especially in the grand scheme of things is that they are still children themselves. If we as a community came together to educate young girls on the acts of sex and help to educate on the best ways for prevention this growing issue can very much be forestalled.
With this stated, I must stress not only the detrimental effects of teenage pregnancy but I also must stress the importance of educating teenagers about pregnancy prevention and the outcomes of teenage pregnancy. My proposal (solution) would be for the school systems around the nation to include a curriculum that makes Sexual Education class mandatory. This is a practical way in which we can better prevent and prepare teenagers for pregnancy. Although there is a type of class is heavily stigmatized due to the social implications it place, it is an effective way of helping teenagers who may not have the proper resources and references.
The Issue of Teen Pregnancy being Normalized
Teen pregnancy has always been an issue, but this issue now is the idea that it has become normalized. That we as a society should just accept the fact that it’s happening, and viewing it as something that can’t be changed. We have not accepted the fact that it has become a pressing issue that is in need of change. In Mollborn’s “Norms as Group-Level Constructs”, it was described that the norms of subjects like teenage pregnancy varies from age group to age group. The subject of teenage pregnancy and its presence in some cases can be in correlation with socioeconomic, race, and religion.
With teenage pregnancy regularly being normalized, the individuals who already lack resources are not accounted for. It is evident that people that come from a lower socioeconomic status will have a much harder time providing for themselves and their infant after pregnancy. In Fuller’s “Social Determinants and Teen Pregnancy”, they look at social determinants that impact or influence teenage pregnancy. Along with this, it was described how, “….to have a great impact, the CDC and national, state, and community project partners looked to uncover local underlying factors that influence teen pregnancy and the sexual health outcomes of vulnerable you” (Fuller, 2016).
The Drop in Teenage Pregnancy
According to CNN Health, as of 2016, the rate of pregnancy in adolescents has declined by 9%. This decline is thanks to “most teens are using some form of birth control” and the top method is “the condom, followed by withdrawal and the pill.” This is a step up, but it doesn’t help that some teens don’t know their options, or what they should do. A lot of teens depend heavily on condoms, the pill, or simply just the withdrawal method. Although rates have declined, the issue still remains because it is overlooked.
Teen pregnancy is at an all-time low from years past. A huge factor for this is the Title X Family Planning Program, this provides affordable and quality reproductive and family planning health care services to low-income teenagers. I think with this, it will give teens the extra information and make them more knowledgeable about the dangers of sex and pregnancy among adolescents.
The Lack of Education
Another pressing issue is the removal and debate over sexual education being taught in the schools. One of the biggest factors that play into this is the religion aspect of it. The churches and their followers believe that if we teach sexual education in the schools then we are pushing teens to go out and have sex. Teens rely too heavily on solely using condoms and withdrawal primarily, some do use birth control methods such as the pill, but that’s all they depend on. The lack the knowledge of the effects on birth control pill and other methods. They don’t understand how drastically the body can change with the use of birth control as well as if they aren’t on the pill the effects of constantly relying on the morning after pill.
I think that increasing education on safer sex is the best way to prevent and decrease the rates of adolescent pregnancy. Sexual education would most definitely help because it would increase the knowledge of how they can practice safer sex. Sexual education would teach prevention methods, this includes how condoms work, birth control options, and most importantly abstinence. Also, sexual education could teach and remind students of the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and the dangers of adolescent pregnancy.
The Effects on Life
In addition to the lack of education, that adds to teens not knowing how drastic having a child changes their lives. It is only seen as, they have to care for a baby, not how hard that the role of being a parent is, and how everything won’t be as easy as it seems. Teens don’t understand that it’s not as easy to care for a child and go to school at the same time. This causes a majority of teens to drop out of school, and they usually don’t continue their education as well. Also, they don’t realize how hard it is to care for a child, go to school, work, and continue the other things in their lives. Therefore, they have to drop everything to work to provide for that child. I also think that they don’t take into account that all parents aren’t going to be supportive of the situation and they may have to face these challenges alone.
If teens were educated on how much it costs to take care of a child as well as knowing how hard it really is, that would help in the prevention of pregnancy occurring. I also think that if teens knew the effect that raising a child has on their social, and educational statuses then that would as help in the prevention of pregnancy. Among all, if teens knew how drastic their lives were going to change, as well as it isn’t as easy as it seems.
In Mueller’s article “ Teenage pregnancy prevention: Implementation of a Multicomponent Community-Wide Approach”, they provide an examination over a community-wide “initiatives” in teenage pregnancy prevention programs. They found that “ comprehensive implementation takes time and significant TTA (training and technical assistance) to ensure organizations have the capacity to integrate best practices and strategies at the practitioner level.” This signifies that a topic like teenage pregnancy is better handled through addressing it in a head-on manner. In Gosling’s article “Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy, Sexually Transmitted Infections, and Associated Sexual Risk Behaviors: A Systematic Review”, it also examines the effectiveness of a comprehensive approach. Once again, results showed that a comprehensive approach is more of a advantage rather than a disadvantage.
The implementation of a curriculum that imposes a sexual education course takes on the mold of a comprehensive approach. This course can not only serve as a preventative measure regarding teenage pregnancy but can also serve as a level of guidance that informs students about the general outcome of these instances. Although teenage pregnancy is not as prevalent as prior times it is still something that we can not attack with complacency. This is not only a detriment to a teenagers’ life or the family’s life but also the life of the next generation who have no control over how they’re brought into the world.