Public Perception on Teen Pregnancy From 1980-2019

Public perception on teen pregnancy has been in a state of constant change throughout the years, more specifically between the 1980’s and 2000’s. The changes happening in American society reflect on why teenagers are becoming pregnant, what precautions could be done to prevent it from happening, and how parents and society are coping with it. Studies have shown that there could be different factors that cause teenage pregnancy. Teen pregnancy is something that happens throughout the globe but it happens more often in certain countries especially The United States which has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world.

Every country has a way of handling the situation at hand and although teen pregnancy has decreased throughout the years it is still an issue that is being addressed.

This research will include resources from eight different sources, some are non-educational and some that are from educational journals. The issues that will be discussed have to do with teen pregnancy all over the world and how it has changed.

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Also, this discussion will be comparing articles on the rise and fall of teenage pregnancy from 4 different decades from 1980-2019. The academic journals that were researched in this paper are about the trends and lessons learned on teen pregnancy, social and cultural factors concerning teenage pregnancy, contributing factors and strategies for prevention.

According to the article in the New York Times by Rhonda Gilinsky,” teenage pregnancy is a growing concern in some parts of the world and the problem was of greater magnitude in the United States” (Gilinsky, 1987).

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Concerning the other parts of the world, Gilinsky’s article discusses the YWCA, which is the World Council of the Young Women’s Christian Association. The article mentioned that they participated in a conference that was titled, “Teenage Pregnancy: A Global View”. The World Counsel was represented by 5 representatives from Nigeria, India, Australia, Barbados, and Sierra Leone and they discussed a growing concern of teenage pregnancy in their country.

Each representative at the YWCA conference discussed different issues that they were having such as Sierra Leone which doesn’t have a major problem with teen pregnancy because in their society marriages happen as early as the ages of 14 and 15. In Nigeria, teenage pregnancy has become a major issue and has increased. Barbados has some issues with teen pregnancy, but they also have resources such as Family Planning organizations that help girls and they encourage fathers to attend as well. The only concern in Barbados is that women become pregnant right after they have a baby. In India, teenage pregnancy is not a major issue because girls marry as young as 12 and 13 years old, and they are governed by law, so they are protected. In Australia, teen age pregnancy is on the rise because of lack of education concerning sex. The problems that are indicated in this article as to why teenage pregnancies happen so often is because of social conditions such as poverty and minority status, lack of education, and employment opportunities. Sexual education is not taught in schools and that no contraception is available to the students.

According to a 1987 article in the New York Times by Rhonda Gilinsky,” teenage pregnancy is a growing concern in some parts of the world and the problem was of greater magnitude in the United States.” In the United States, according to Planned Parenthood, one million teenagers become pregnant every year (Gilinsky, 1987). In the 1980’s, teen pregnancies were on the rise in the U.S. Sex on TV was a major concern because it was being glamourized and suffered from lack of education and resources available, such as contraception. Lack of sex education in school has a lot to do with teenage pregnancies being on the rise and the fact that parents were not discussing with their children about birth control. Another reason why teen pregnancies were rising during the 1980’s is because the Reagan Administration had cut the budgets for not just abortions, but also for health clinics, sex education, and birth control programs. While clinics were closing, teen pregnancies were rising. (Becklund, 1993)

In the 1990’s, teen pregnancies were starting to decline because of more education concerning sex, pregnancy, and the use of contraception. Because of this teen pregnancies were declining between 1991 to 1996. (Lewin, 1998) According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 1991-1996, black teenagers had more babies than white teenagers, and that had declined by 21%. Statistics also included that black teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19, there births were at 91.7% per 1,000, white births were at 48.4% per 1,000, and Hispanic teenagers had 101.6 births per 1,000. (Lewin, 1998) Black communities were starting to get a message across to black teenagers through churches, schools, and organizations that supporting a child at their age would be extremely difficult. Birth rates were going up from 1986 to 1991 and sharply declined from 1991 to 1996. Another reason for these declines was abstinence education and more resources made available such as certain types of contraception. Even though the rates of teen pregnancy did drop, the United States is still the highest amongst any nation.

In the 2006, birth rates for teenagers between the ages of 15 to 19 had risen in the United States by 3%. Birth rates for girls under the age of 14 had dropped. These increases were high amongst black teenagers, but the increases were also seen with white females, Hispanics, and American Indians while rates from Asian teenagers continued to drop. (Harris, 2007) Abstinence only education had failed and caused the increase instead of preventing it. Trying to decrease the rate of teenage pregnancy, agencies pushed for the Plan B pill without a prescription in 2006. In 2017, the birth rates from teenagers has dropped from 2016 birth rate. The reasoning for the decline, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is because teens are using effective birth control methods or maybe even practicing abstinence. (Gomez, 2019)

In the 1990’s, the teenage pregnancy and birthrates around the world were at its record low, but the fact still remains that the United States is still considered the highest in the world. In this journal, it explores some of the reasons why the rates are still high in the United States. Some of the key trends that are happening all over the world is childbearing, unmarried childbearing, abortion, and Pregnancy. Childbearing had fell deeply in the 1950’s and continued to fall in the 1960’s and 1970’s, then rose between 1988 and 1991, then fell again throughout the 90’s. This downward spiral occurred amongst all ages and races. (Boostra, et. al, 2002) Most teens do not become married before having a child, but there may be a select few that do get married. As far as abortion is concerned the rates in the 1970’s and 1980’s had risen and then declined by 1997 with only 28 abortions per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 19.

The reasons why birthrates were declining through out the world in the 1990’s was due to increased use in contraception and more teens were practicing abstinence instead of having sex. In the United States the pregnancy rate was almost double as compared to Canada and Great Britain, and four times as high as France and Sweden. (Boostra,, 2002) In developing countries such as Canada, Great Britain, France, and Sweden, teen pregnancy was declining because childbearing was regarded as adult behavior, there were clearer messages about sexual behavior, more access to family planning, and their commitment to youth development.

Social Disparities exist with teenage pregnancy amongst racial and ethnic groups in this country. The problems that minorities face in the United States could be because of poverty, lack of education and quality health care. According to family statistics in 2007, birthrates between Latino’s and African Americans is more than two times that of Caucasian females. In 2010, representing 35% of total population from ages 15-19, Latinos and African Americans contribute to 37% of teenage pregnancies. In 2014, the birth rate of Caucasian teens was 21 births per 1,000 women, African American teens birth rate was 44 per 1,000 women, Latinos were 46.3 birth per 1,000 women, American Indian or Alaska native teens birthrate was 35 births per 1,000 women, and Asian or Pacific Islander teen birth rate were 10 births out of 1,000 women. (Akella, 2015)
Some of the contributing factors to teen pregnancy has to do with family background, history of sexual abuse, lack of education, and self-perception. Sexual abuse could lead to an increase in pregnancy because they feel useless and feel that having a child will make them feel whole and loved. Pregnant teenagers who are in school has some issues that they may have concern with as far as getting their child to day care without transportation. It was hard for these mothers to balance going to school as well are taking care of a child. Strategies to help teens, who are mothers, would be to provide support groups for them and provide counseling or mentors for these young mothers. In the prevention of teenage pregnancy, schools should get involved by providing sex education and make resources available to our youth.


  1. Akella, D, and M Jordan. “Impact of Social and Cultural Factors on Teen Pregnancy.” Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice, vol. 8, no. 1, 2015, pp. 41–62, R
  2. BECKLUND, LAURIE. “The ’80s: ‘Greenhouse for Teen Pregnancy.’” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 14 Mar. 1993, Accessed 15 Nov. 2019.
  3. Boonstra, Heather. “Teen Pregnancy: Trends and Lessons Learned.” Guttmacher Institute, 22 Sept. 2004, Accessed 3 Nov. 2019.
  4. Gilinsky, Rhonda. “Teen-Age Pregnancy: An International Exchange of Ideas.” The New York Times, 4 Oct. 1987.
  5. Gomez, Jasmine. “15 Facts About Teen Pregnancy You Need to Know.” Seventeen, Seventeen, 21 Aug. 2019, Accessed 15 Sept. 2019.
  6. Harris, Gardiner. “Teenage Birth Rate Rises for First Time Since ’91.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 6 Dec. 2007, Accessed 21 Nov. 2019.
  7. Lewin, Tamar. “Birth Rates for Teen-Agers Declined Sharply in the 90’s.” The New York Times, 1 May 1998, html. Accessed 15 Nov. 2019.
  8. McCullough, M, and A Scherman. “Adolescent Pregnancy: Contributing Factors and Strategies for Prevention.” Adolescence, vol. 26, no. 104, 1991.
  9. Motherjones.Com, 2019, Accessed 15 Nov. 2019.

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Public Perception on Teen Pregnancy From 1980-2019. (2020, Sep 14). Retrieved from

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