The first day of high school, going to homecoming and prom, learning to drive, graduation, getting a job and starting college, and lastly, buying a first vehicle are some of the most exciting and memorable events which occur in the lives of the average American adolescent. However, as if life during the teenage years isn’t complex or chaotic enough, another event has been added to the lives of numerous teens: getting pregnant and becoming a mom. Teen pregnancy by far is not a new issue for American adolescents.
In fact, it has been a rather prevalent concern for many years. Reducing teenage pregnancy in the United States is necessary because; 1) teen pregnancy is extremely costly for both the mother and American taxpayers and 2) teen pregnancy poses numerous health concerns for both mother and baby.
The United States has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates than most other countries in the Western industrialized world (11 Facts About Teen Pregnancy). Statistically speaking, as of 2017, a total of 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 (CDC). Furthermore, it is slightly surprising that about 25% of these teen moms end up having a second child within at least 24 months of their first (11 Facts About Teen Pregnancy). With that being said, why should these young mothers and the people around them be so concerned with this issue, after all it is the mother’s right to have sex and possibly conceive a child?
First, teen pregnancy is extremely costly for everyone involved.
According to the article “Teen Childbearing is Costly to Taxpayers,” the public cost of teen childbearing ranged from $15 million in Vermont to $1.1 billion in Texas.” This cost is astronomical for sure, but how much does it cost the mother to have her baby? According to WebMD, mothers of all ages can look to spend anywhere from $0 to $2,000 for prenatal care and $15 for a 30-day supply of prenatal vitamins, both of which are vital for a healthy delivery and healthy baby (Hartfield). This would be hard for most teen parents to afford, as many still do not have jobs or if they do, the job might not pay the best. Furthermore, if mom chooses to go to childbirth classes, they can cost anywhere from $50-$200 per class and when it comes time to have the baby, hospital costs can range anywhere from $0-$15,000 (Hartfield).
Another issue associated with teen pregnancy is the health issues it poses to both mother and baby. For example, if the mother does not receive prenatal care or she gets pregnant before age 15, health concerns such as low birth weight/premature birth; anemia; high blood pressure/pregnancy induced hypertension; a higher rate of infant mortality; and lastly, a possible greater risk of cephalopelvic disproportion or the baby’s head being wider than the pelvic opening, can occur (Teen Pregnancy Issues and Challenges). To help reduce and possibly even solve the issue of teen pregnancy, the teen population should practice abstinence until they are physically and mentally ready to be parents as well as know the different forms of contraceptives available for them and how to use.
Even though there are various ways when it comes to preventing teen pregnancies, such as practicing safe sex, sexual education, or contraceptives, the only one that is one hundred percent effective is the practice of sexual abstinence. This method is the only one that gives teens the absolute guarantee of no risk of getting pregnant as well as offering protection from getting STDs and STIs. While many view the practice of abstinence as being a decision based on religious or moral beliefs, this is actually far from the truth (Lone Star College). We should be promoting abstinence in a way that does not pinpoint certain religions or particular family moral beliefs; however, it should be promoted solely as a way to prevent unplanned pregnancies in any and all teens, no matter what race, family belief, or religion they practice.
A second method for teenage pregnancy prevention is teaching our nation’s teens about the various contraceptives available for their use. Even though abstinence will always hold the pedestal for being the most effective, healthy, and natural way to prevent adolescent pregnancies, there is no doubt that there will always be a great number of couples who will be involved in some form of a sexual relationship. For this very reason, it is extremely important that we educate teens on how to use various forms of contraceptives safely and responsibly. Many sex education classes in our nation’s schools promote the use of condoms while having sex, if teen couples feel the absolute need to be having sex. The problem with this is that we are not educating teens to the other various forms of contraceptives such as birth control pills or implants and other methods of prevention that are widely available. Therefore, sex education classes should be providing teens information on how to obtain these numerous different methods of birth control (Lone Star College).
Critics of either of these methods, specifically the practice of sexual abstinence are quick to argue that telling teens to be abstinent is by no means realistic. However, there is evidence, in the form of a slight decrease in teen pregnancies, that this is wrong. While abstaining from sexual relations may be difficult for some, it is not so difficult for others, as they understand that they must make a life for themselves and their future families rather than going ahead and going and getting pregnant at the age of 15 or 16 years old, which is always a risk that occurs during sexual relations. Furthermore, some argue that sexual relations are the only way to fully know their partner or share love with their partner and show them their feelings. However, this is not the case. As stated by an article by the American Pregnancy Association, there are other ways to show romantic partners love and have intimacy in the relationship besides solely having sex and risking the chance of a pregnancy at a young age (Abstinence). These ways include talking and listening to each other, sharing joys, hurts, dreams, goals, wishes and other aspects of their lives, having honesty and respect for one another, and lastly, having fun and playing together.
For example, some couples enjoy laying in bed and having intimate conversations or maybe they just talk about what happened to them that day. Although they are not having sexual relations, they are still forming that intimate feeling that sex can give them. The article further goes on to describe other ways couples can show their affection for each other aside from having sex. These include, but are not limited to, having intimate conversations, writing a lover a card, letter, and/or love note, supporting a partner in his/her extracurricular activities, and lastly, going out on creative and fun dates (Abstinence). Furthermore, others argue that they use sexual relations in their relationship(s) as they feel it is the only way to make their lover or partner stay with them. However, if a man makes a woman feel like this or vice-versa, they should simply think about leaving said partner and finding a better one that is not going to attempt to pressure them into something they do not want to do or something they are simply not ready for.
In terms of the crisis of teen pregnancy rates in the United States, we have, by far, the highest rate of occurrence than any other country in the Western industrial world. However, there are a couple of great ways we can all help diminish and/or solve this issue: promoting abstinence to our teen population and educating teens on the different forms of contraceptives available, such as birth control pills or IUDs and condoms. The United States is supposed to be a land of great opportunity, however, if our nation’s young generations keep getting pregnant and having babies rather than taking advantage of all this awesome country has to offer in compliance to colleges and higher paying jobs after getting a degree than we won’t be offering them much of an opportunity. Attempt to give the teens of this country a chance to live for these opportunities by getting more people to promote sexual abstinence and education of the different forms of contraceptives to every teen they encounter. It is the only way this country will remain as great as it is!