The United States has been experiencing a considerable rise in teenage pregnancy for a long period. Teenage pregnancy is common and persistent in individuals under eighteen years of age. Statistics indicate that a disproportionate number of teenage pregnancy is associated with the African American teens who have a pregnancy rate of 117 per 1000 females.
They are followed by Hispanic teens who have a pregnancy rate of 107 per 1000 females. The third in the list are the native Americans with a pregnancy rate of 43 per 1000 females. The lowest pregnancy rate is observed among the Asians who have a pregnancy rate of 23 per 1000 females (Barr, Simons, Simons, Gibbons, & Gerrard, 2013). The high rates of teenage pregnancies are attributed to the increase in intercourse in teenagers who use contraception poorly. Teen pregnancy in the African-American community has tremendous negative impacts on the society such as increased maternal mortality rate in females under 15 years of age. Various reports also indicate 10-29 percent of toxemia of pregnancy. In most cases, prematurity is observed in infants of teenage mothers, leading to increased perinatal mortality.
Notably, teenagers are perceived to be poor parents who get easily involved in child abuse as compared to older parents. Due to several factors affecting the condition of infants born to teenage mothers, the IQs of these infants tend to be lower as compared to the infants of mature mothers (Brubaker, 2007). This paper will focus on African American teen pregnancy and examine its effects on the society.
Childbearing among teens has potentially negative consequences on health, social and economic aspects of life (Gilliam, Gay, & Hernandez, 2006).
Both the mother and the child experience these consequences. Subsequent childbearing leads to further constraints in the education, as well as employment possibilities of the mother. Teens with a subsequent birth experience rates of low birth weight and preterm that are higher than the first births. Research indicates that the majority of teenage mothers who are sexually active use contraceptives in the year that follows their first delivery (Barr, Simons, Simons, Gibbons, & Gerrard, 2013). Moreover, a large number of those using contraceptives prefer the pill. Research by the National Survey of Family Growth portrays that a large proportion of teenagers who do not use methods of birth control constitutes of African American teens (Gilliam, Gay, & Hernandez, 2006). When the data from the research was analyzed, it was identified that African Americans constituted a large proportion of unmarried women at the time of first birth. From this information, it is apparent that these women became pregnant at their tender age.
The analysis of natality data collected by the National Vital Statistics Systems helps in assessing subsequent pregnancy among African American teens. This data indicates that out of the number of births recorded in African American teens, 18.3 percent constituted repeat births (Jacobs & Mollborn, 2012). A national survey that was conducted by Stickle and Ma indicated that in the year 1973, all births to African American teenage mothers aged below 16 years were first births. However, for teenage mothers aged 16 and 17, cases of second pregnancies that constituted 11 percent were reported. One percent of the births constituted third or subsequent births. In the same year the number of births to African American teens aged 18 and 19 constituted 22 percent second births, as well as 4 percent third or subsequent births (Jacobs & Mollborn, 2012). Recent statistics indicate that the percentage of subsequent pregnancies in African American teenagers has dropped from 19.5 percent in the year 2007 to 13.3 percent in the year 2010 (Jacobs & Mollborn, 2012). These statistics reflect a decrease of 6.2 percent. Despite the recent decline in the prevalence of subsequent teen pregnancies, nearly 20 percent of the birth given by African American teens are repeat births.
Major depression is perceived as one of the common and severe mental health disorders that affect women during the years of child-bearing (Killebrew, Smith, Nevels, Weiss, & Gontkovsky, 2014). When this disorder is clinically diagnosed, various symptoms are observed such as depressed mood, recurrent thoughts of death, fatigue and feelings of worthiness. Few studies have investigated this mental disorder among pregnant teens. These studies have led the publication of various reports which suggest that teen mothers have a greater risk of developing depression as compared to adult pregnant women. In the African American community, various cases of teen pregnancy depression have been reported in which the depression prevalence rates are approximated between 16 and 44 percent while the estimated prevalence depression rate among non-pregnant teens is approximately between 5 and 20 percent (Killebrew, Smith, Nevels, Weiss, & Gontkovsky, 2014).
Various studies have been conducted to determine the impacts of maternal depressive symptoms among teenage mothers. One of the studies focused on African American teens, where 294 participants were involved (Spann, Molock, Barksdale, Matlin, & Puri, 2006). The major objective of the study was to examine the effects of depressive symptoms on infants’ birth outcomes associated adolescent mothers in the African American society. The study was designed in a manner that involved the examination of the pregnant teen’s medical records, as well as collecting the information about the symptoms of maternal depression (Spann, Molock, Barksdale, Matlin, & Puri, 2006). The data of this study was obtained at Washing Hospital Center. The major outcome measures include the gestational age at delivery and the infant birth weight. The results of the survey indicated that over one-quarter of the participants in the study reported depression symptoms. From this study, it can be concluded that pregnant are more vulnerable to depression as compared to non-pregnant teens. Additionally, pregnant teens who have a suicidal ideation are likely to deliver infants that have a low birth weight (Spann, Molock, Barksdale, Matlin, & Puri, 2006). It is, therefore, necessary to conduct early screening, as well as treating depression for pregnant teens.
Research has shown that several poor and minority teens are subjected to a higher risk of early childbearing. This is because these teens live in neighborhoods that are poor. Teens coming from poor and minority backgrounds tend to have intercourse at a tender age, as well as delaying to use effective contraception (Goldberg, Frank, Bekenstein, Garrity, & Ruiz, 2011). Studies also indicate that about 40 percent of pregnant teens tend to search for an abortion because they have ambitions in their educational as well as career goals. The other 60 percent constitutes of teens coming from poor backgrounds and who have already lost faith in their abilities (Goldberg, Frank, Bekenstein, Garrity, & Ruiz, 2011). This population is majorly characterized by Africa American teens who consider childbearing out of wedlock. Poverty also makes these teens lack social and financial support from their families. This, in turn, leads to stress and may eventually cause major depression in these poverty-affected teens.
It is apparent that birth rates reported amongst teens decreased throughout the 1970s and 1980s (Goldberg, Frank, Bekenstein, Garrity, & Ruiz, 2011). African Americans demonstrated stable pregnancy rates while pregnant rates amongst Caucasians increased. In the 70’s, teens recorded abortion rates of 30 percent of all the reported abortions (Goldberg, Frank, Bekenstein, Garrity, & Ruiz, 2011). However, despite the decline in birth rates among the adolescents, there was an increase in the prevalence of pre-marital sex. This situation led to tremendous effects on teenagers from the poor background. Young girls from low-income families could easily lose hope in life and focus on ways of sustaining themselves. These problems of poverty are currently observed on African American teen who comes from poor backgrounds. These teens sometimes fail to access quality education that can develop them socially, mentally and spiritually. Therefore, the majority of these teens are ignorant on the important aspects of the society. This condition makes the poverty-affected teens lose faith in their abilities, making them more vulnerable to get pregnant.
Teen pregnancy amongst the Africa American community leads to many school dropouts. Approximately one-third of Africa American teen girls who have dropped out of school mention teenage pregnancy as the major reason for dropping out of school (Pillow, 2006. Research has shown that only 40 percent of teenage mothers manage to finish high school. Also, less than two percent of childbearing teenagers manage to finish college while they are 30 years old (Pillow, 2006). In the Africa America community, the rate of high school dropout continues to be a crisis. It has also been observed that 51 percent of teenage mothers manage to earn a high-school diploma as compared to 89 percent of teenagers who never gave birth as teens (Pillow, 2006). Although they struggle to complete their studies at different levels, most teenage mothers do no reach their set objectives. This results from the pressure they are subjected into while they are pregnant. This condition makes them loose concentration in their studies and fails to work hard. When teens get pregnant at their tender age, their ambition in their field of academic success is cut short, and they start thinking how to take care of the infant. This leads to the shortage of side aside for their studies. The teens fail to study, and they are easily outcompeted by their colleagues who are not affected by teenage pregnancy.
Teenage pregnancy is perceived as a social problem in the Africa American community. Most teens find it difficult to handle issues of pregnancy (Goldberg, Frank, Bekenstein, Garrity, & Ruiz, 2011). Pregnancy causes negative economic, social, physical and psychological impacts on adolescents. It distracts their ambitions and their set objectives. This condition makes the teens start engaging in illegal behavior such as substance abuse and unnecessary violence. They become irresponsible members of the society after dropping out of school and unable to pursue their career. This behavior can make these teens break the law, making them land in jail (Goldberg, Frank, Bekenstein, Garrity, & Ruiz, 2011). The government therefore as well as the society should ensure that the welfare of teens is safeguarded. It should establish effective measures to aid in controlling teenage pregnancy. In cases where there are teen mothers, the government should assist them to realize their goals so that they can also become responsible members of the society.
The information provided on teen pregnancy by various studies is based on the teens’ race. The studies clearly outline that the African American community leads in teen pregnancy in the United States. For instance, the African American community leads by a pregnancy rate of 117 per 1000 females. These studies largely exclude to highlight the cause of the differences in the pregnancy rates among all the races in the United States. The studies only focus on the impact of teen pregnancy on the female teens. They do not point out the influence of male teens or the roles played by male teens on teenage pregnancy. Literature from the studies describes how teens in the African community suffers from teen pregnancy. It fails to compare the condition of these teen with other teens before and during pregnancy.
In conclusion, it is worth saying that Africa American teen pregnancy is a fraught with several challenges. Teenage pregnancy can lead to more devastating effects in a community that attempts to eradicate ravages of generations associate with oppression and inequality. The Africa American community in the United States is considered to be the leading community in teenage pregnancy. This condition has raised concerns on whether this problem is linked to racial or economic aspects. This community can react naturally by suppressing this kind of challenge by replacing it with positive and developmental activity. Unfortunately, this seems to be an unaffordable luxury. Notably, the future of a society is vested in the success of its children and teen pregnancy appears to be a major threat to the current Africa American youths.
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