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At risk behaviors are behaviors that adolescent’s do that can have harmful to themselves and negative consequences on their life. Teenage pregnancy is an example of an at risk behavior that has been discussed for many years.
From the way people talked it seemed that teenage pregnancy was more a recent issue but according to At Risk Youth, “by 2005, the rate had fallen 41% from its 1990 peak” (McWhirter, 193), making me realize that teenage pregnancy has been an at risk behavior for many years. Having a child is life changing and it is important to see how teenage parents get through the pregnancy, raise their child and how it all affects the child in their life.
Many people believe that teenagers who have children are unfit to be parents because teenagers are still children themselves. People also believe that teen parents will not raise their child “properly” because they do not have the appropriate resources to provide to their child. Resources vary from prenatal care to things provided for the child such as diapers, clothes, toys etc.
Prenatal care can be hard for teen parents to receive when they do not have health insurance and limited amounts of money.
Some teens may be fortunate enough to be on their parent’s health insurance where they can receive proper prenatal care. Prenatal care is important to both the mother and child because without prenatal care, the baby and mother may not be getting the nutrients they need to be healthy. Prenatal care also allows doctors to check the progress of the baby and make sure the baby is doing well.
If the teenage parents chose to not receive prenatal care,
the child can have a low birthrate, be born premature or die before or shortly after being born because progress was not checked throughout the pregnancy. Health risks for the mother who does not receive prenatal care are anemia and/or high blood pressure. Another risk for the mother is cephalopelvic disproportion which is “when the baby’s head is wider than the pelvic opening” (“Teen Pregnancy Issues and Challenges.”)
Once the baby is born there are a lot of responsibilities to take on as a parent. Many teenage parents, mostly moms, think they are going to be able to finish high school and graduate as they raise their child. Since babies require a lot of attention, it is difficult for the parent to study, complete assignments and finish high school even online. Babies also require many resources such as food, diapers, wipes, clothes, and shoes which all cost money. The parents need to work to afford what the child needs which also requires time that the parents do not have because they have to raise their child.
Whether we believe it to be true or not, everything affects us as children which in the end affects how we act as teenagers and adults. Our environment, the people around us, the attitudes of those around us all affect us. Unfortunately, many children born to teen parents do not grow up in ideal the setting. Many teen parents do not stay together, there is a lot of stress and high emotions between the two teenaged parents or the teen parents and their parents and as stated above, resources are limited. Since many children of teen parents grow up in not the best of environments or situations, they struggle academically and socially. “Results show that the 14 year old offspring of mothers who were aged 18 years and younger compared to those who were offspring of older mothers were more likely to have disturbed psychological behaviour, poorer school performance, poorer reading ability, were more likely to have been in contact with the criminal justice system and were more likely to smoke regularly and to consume alcohol” (Shaw).
Many children born to teen parents are more likely to struggle in school academically compared to children who have older parents. According to a study that was conducted by the University of Michigan, “having a child during adolescences has enduring negative consequences for the achievement of the next generation” (Tang). Children who are born to teenage parents struggle in school because most likely the teen parents or teen mom did not finish school themselves. The child can also suffer academically because teen parents do not prioritize education and they may not be able to afford schooling such as day care or pre-school. Children do not need to go to pre-school but it can be beneficial to the child’s development and provide opportunities for a teacher to make sure all children are up to par in their learning.
Unfortunately, teen parents need to focus on making ends meet and doing whatever is possible to provide for their child, themselves and their family hat teen parents do not have the opportunity to help their child academically. The study from the University of Michigan compared 14,279 students work throughout third, fifth and eighth grade who were born to both teen parents who did finish high school and parents who did not finished high school. The results showed that “the children of teen mother’s do not catch up in achievement and carry a risk of lower academic achievement” compared to mother’s who finished their education before having a child (Wadley).
As mentioned above and proven through research, many teenage couples do not stay together after having a child. Being a single parent is difficult but being a young, single parent is even more difficult because they have less experiences and are not as mature to be able to handle/make big decisions on their own. Young parents tend to use harsher punishments such as verbal punishment because they do not know what else to do and do not know how to handle their emotions. Physical punishments affects the child’s development because the child may think it is normal and act out like that with other children, causing them to act violently. Stress and high emotions can also cause a child to be violent or to act out because they can feel those emotions even if the emotions are not directed to them.
“Boys born to teenage mothers are 13% more likely to be incarcerated later in life and girls are 22% more likely to become teenage mothers themselves” (Swierzewski). Teen pregnancy is considered to be an at risk behavior because it can have a negative effect of the teen parent’s life as well a negative effect on the life the child. Being a teenager is difficult enough but to add being pregnant and becoming a parent makes those teenage years even more difficult. From doing the research and reading a lot of different articles, I have learned how being pregnant during the teenage years is dangerous to both the mom and the baby. I have also learned how many children born the teen parents truggle academically, cognitively, socially and emotionally. From what I have learned, I can use this information in the classroom to help students chieve academically because all students come from different backgrounds. What I am still curios about is finding out how having a child affects the teenageparents as well as the family structure/dynamic affects the child of the teen parents.
“Chapter 9: Teenage Pregnancy, STD's and Risky Sexual Behavior.” At Risk Youth, by Robert Mcwhirter, 5th ed., Cengage Learning, Inc, 2016, pp. 191–217.
“Teen Pregnancy Issues and Challenges.” American Pregnancy Association, 6 Sept. 2017, americanpregnancy.org/unplanned-pregnancy/teen-pregnancy-issues-challenges/.
Shaw, Mary, et al. “Teenage Children of Teenage Mothers: Psychological, Behavioural and Health Outcomes from an Australian Prospective Longitudinal Study.” Social Science & Medicine, Pergamon, 5 Dec. 2005, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953605005332.
Wadley, Jared. “Mother's Education Significant to Children's Academic Success.” Michigan News; University of Michigan , 10 Nov. 2014, ns.umich.edu/new/releases/22501-mothers-education-significant-to-children-s-academic-success.
“Teen Pregnancy & Health Risks to the Baby.” Edited by Stanley J Swierzewski, Teen Pregnancy & Health Risks to the Baby - Teen Pregnancy - HealthCommunities.com, 6 Oct. 2015, www.healthcommunities.com/teen-pregnancy/children/risks-to-baby-in-teen-pregnancy.shtml.
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