Teen pregnancy is a subject that can be discussed in any country due to the prevalence of it world wide. It can be described as giving birth to a child between the ages of 13-19, but more commonly seen between the ages of 15-19. In some countries it is at an incredibly high percentage while others have a low percentage of teenage pregnancies per year. While the rate of teen pregnancy in the United States has decreased since the 1950s, it is high in comparison to other developed countries.
An examination of the relationship between several aspects of teen pregnancy including prevention, the consequences of it, the prevalence of it in the United States and other countries, and the future of teen pregnancy will allow for society to gain a better understanding of this controversial topic.
Like any pregnancy, teen pregnancy results after the act of sexual intercourse due to either birth control failure or birth control not being used at all.
It is important to note that more often than not, teen pregnancies aren’t usually planned and are often a result of the failure to responsibly use contraceptives. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, a center that is part of the CDC, fourteen percent of sexually active teenage girls did not use any form of contraception during their most recent sexual encounter. By not using any contraception, the likelihood of getting pregnant is greatly increased and accounts for a good portion of teenage pregnancies. While some teens do often partake in the use of contraceptives, their methods may not always be successful.
For example, they may choose to use the withdrawal method which essentially provides no real form of protection, just pulling out before ejaculation, and has proven to not be a very effective form of birth control. If they decide to use this form of birth control, there is still a good chance the male may not pull out in time and result in an unplanned teen pregnancy. Regardless of the choice to use or not to use a form of birth control, there is still an overwhelming amount of teen pregnancies that occur every year.
One major aspect of teen pregnancy is the prevention of it. While there are many ways to prevent teen pregnancy, there seems to be a lack of prevention resulting in the numbers we see in reference to teen pregnancy. You would think that with the medical advances we have in today’s society and the resources available that these numbers wouldn’t be as high as they are, however that is not the case. A common prevention not just for teen pregnancies, but any pregnancy is the use of contraceptives. As previously mentioned, there are a number of teens who do not engage in the use of it, or fail to do so correctly, which results in a pregnancy. By examining this topic more closely it is found that the reasoning behind this lack of contraception results in the psychological consequences that come with the use of it (Marsiglio, 1985). To be more specific, Marsiglio discusses that when teens decide to use certain forms of contraceptives, such as the pill, they may have to visit a doctor or clinic to obtain this type of birth control. The thought of talking to a doctor about this can be embarrassing for them and in their eyes it is often easier to just not talk about it at all (Marsiglio, 1985). There is also the chance their parents may find out about the contraceptives they have and this a discussion most teens would rather avoid with their parents (Marsiglio, 1985). Such psychological factors often tend to push teens away from the use of effective contraceptives altogether, and result in either lack of or less effective forms of it. By understanding these feelings teens have towards contraceptive use, it is easier to see why teen pregnancies are happening. However, understanding this also means understanding why it is important to educate our youth on sex and contraceptives so that these negative feelings can become less common. It is also important to educate our youth about these topics because some just don’t know about contraceptives or do not have the right information, resulting in not using them when having sex (Marsiglio, 1985). By providing high quality sex education to our youth there is a higher chance that teens will make the decision to use contraceptives because they have more knowledge about it and the percentage of teen pregnancies in the United States will continue to decrease. Preventing teen pregnancies means teens using contraceptives more responsibly and that starts with good sex education and providing resources available to teens.
As mentioned earlier, when compared with other developed countries, the United States is much higher in the amount of teen pregnancies per year. A study that looked at the percentage of teen pregnancies per one thousand girls from 1996-2006, including birth and abortions, revealed that the United States indeed had a much higher amount of teen pregnancies compared to Sweden, Canada, and England. In 1996 the percent total of teen births and abortions per one thousand girls for Sweden was 25.4%, Canada was 44.2%, England was 63.2% , and the United States was 82.1% (McKay, 2010). As time has gone by, the percentage of teen pregnancies has changed both up and down, but the United States still leads in the number of occurrences. In 2006 Sweden was 31.4%, which is an increase from 1996, but was an increase in abortions and decrease in births. Canada was 27.9%, which was a decrease in both abortions and births. England was 60.2%, and while it had a decrease in the total number and number of births, it had an increase in abortions since 1996. The United States was 61.2%, which was a decrease in the total, the number of abortions, and the number of births (McKay, 2010). While the United States is steadily declining, the amount is still higher than other countries, even when theirs increased slightly. In 2006 the percentage of the U.S. was more than doubled of what Sweden’s percentage was in 1996. According to McKay, the decrease in teen pregnancy births in all countries were brought on by several factors which include but were not limited to, societal norms, immigration patterns, and demographic shifts, and most importantly the increased use of contraceptives (McKay, 2010). A study found that there was an increased percentage of teens who used birth control pills and condoms in more recent years than in previous, which is an indicator of the correlation between the increased use of contraceptives and decreased teen birth numbers.
While pregnancy can often be a time of joy and excitement for a family when it was planned, that is not always the case for teen pregnancies due to the common unintentional pregnancy. While some teenagers who become a parent have a lot of support from their family and are able to provide a stable environment for themselves and their child, while living a healthy and positive life, that isn’t the case for all teen pregnancies. Teen pregnancies often have many negative consequences that result. One of these consequences is the possibility the mother will drop out of school. Dropping out of school can make it hard to find a good paying job in the future which can lead to financial difficulties leading to poverty for themselves and the child. Another consequence is the mental well-being of the mother. Often times a teen parent’s mental state is compromised due to their teen pregnancy and can result in depression Goossens finds that depressive symptoms are seen in about fifty percent of teen mothers and include but are not limited to problems with sleeping and appetite, feelings of loneliness, and thoughts of causing harm the child or themselves (Goossens, 2015). Depression can be brought on from the feeling of not being a good enough parent, financial issues, school, lack of support, and other obstacles that result as a consequence of teen pregnancy. While depression can take a toll on the mother, it can also impact the relationship between the parent and child. (Goossens, 2015). Depression can cause the mother to be less responsive to the child’s needs which can result in an insecure attachment parenting style. This can eventually lead to behavioral issues as the child ages into adolescence and adulthood. Children may also face difficulties in school and teen pregnancy themselves (Goossens, 2015). Aside from mental consequences that result from teen pregnancy, physical consequences can occur as well. Depending on the teenage year the mother gives birth, the pelvic bones may not be completely developed and can result in complications and prematurity of the child. Prematurity can lead to low birth weights and other issues for the child. (Goossens, 2015). While a pregnancy can bring a great amount of joy into the lives of parents, teen pregnancies often have consequences that result and can be detrimental to the lives of the teen.
While teen pregnancy is something that can be prevented the odds of it becoming non-existent altogether are highly unlikely. If the trends in teen pregnancy rates continue as such, there will continue to be a decrease in the percentage of them, but they will most likely still be occurring, just in smaller quantities. In order to guarantee the complete elimination of teen pregnancies, all teens would have to partake in abstinence, which is the only form of birth control that ensures no pregnancy can occur. The chances of this happening are highly unlikely, which means teen pregnancies are still bound to happen, but can definitely be reduced by sex education and responsible contraceptive use.
Teen pregnancy is an issue that occurs all over the world and is ultimately bound to exist until the end of time. Prevention is the best method in reducing teen pregnancies and is due to high quality sex education and increased contraceptive use. The United States has shown decreasing trends in the amount of teen pregnancies and by providing teens with sex education, resources, and encouraging the use of contraceptives, the amount of teen pregnancies can continue to be reduced. Teen pregnancies can result in a number of consequences so the best way to avoid these is to prevent and thus, reduce it. While teen pregnancies will inevitably continue to exist, studies have shown that the numbers of teen pregnancies are decreasing as time goes on. By researching this topic I’ve found there isn’t much information on the number of teen pregnancies that are due to rape and sexual assault, and this is something that should be accounted for in these numbers. Public perception of teen pregnancy mostly results in the want for it to continue to be reduced and sex education be made available to teens. As time goes on and the society we live in today continues to advance, there should be research conducted on the amount of free resources teens have in regards to contraceptives and if they are not only utilizing it, but also if it is proving to be effective in reducing teen pregnancies. Teen pregnancy has a number of aspects that encompass it, but by shining a light on the important aspects of prevention, statistics, consequences, and projection of it society can gain a better understanding of it and hopefully aid in the reduction of it.
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