Problem Statement: Teenage Pregnancy has become a world-wide epidemic or social problem that continues to remain high and inflict negative consequences upon both developed and underdeveloped societies. Even with teen pregnancy rates declining between the years of 1990 and 2002, and an additional 3 percent decrease in teen fertility rates in 1991 through 2004; the United States continues to have the highest teen pregnancies, birth rates, and abortions in the fully industrialized world (Hoffman & Maynard, 2008). Naturally, adolescents or young adults who become a parent or take on the task of parenting at a young age face financial, social, and emotional disadvantages. A whirl wind of problems are plagued upon these individuals because they are unprepared to take on the mental, physical, and emotional responsibilities that come along with taking care of another human-being. As a result, a variety of other social issues and consequences are associated with teenage pregnancy. Most pregnant teenagers find themselves contributing to and facing welfare dependency, poverty, higher single-parent households, abortions, increased non-marital births, school failure, and child abuse or neglect. Teenage pregnancy has become an ultimate concern, and the fact that this social problem continues to exist means that preventing teen pregnancy is critical in enhancing the well-being of society.
Overview: According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (2002), ‘There are nearly half a million teen births each year and over 900,000 teen pregnancies annually’ (p.5). These social trends and patterns demonstrate how and why the need for plausible solutions are in demand. With that being said, there must be careful examination of teenage pregnancy facts, trends, and major scope of the problem to adequately address the progress that can be made in regards to this lingering issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that, ‘In 2012, a total of 305,388 babies were born to women ages 15 to 19 years old’ (para.1). Although teenage pregnancy can affect those that are younger, the problem clearly and commonly lies between adolescents who are within the 15 to 19 year old age range. There are a number of reasons and causes that are believed to contribute to teenage pregnancy. Certain ethnic groups or race, family structure, culture, and socio-economic status are thought to have some influence. According to (Brown, 2013), ‘An examination of a national sample of daughters of teenage mothers noted that Hispanic race, poverty, deviant peer norms, and low parental monitoring all represented risk factors’ (p.30). In addition, some of the social trends that contribute to teenage pregnancy include lack of education or birth control methods, lack of emotional fulfillment at home, poor self-esteem, failed contraceptives, and engaging in sexual intercourse early on. Overall, adolescents who derive from families that are uninvolved or disrupted in structure are more likely to have lower self-esteem and suffer from emotional problems that negatively affect an individual’s mental state. Thus, these factors can contribute to behavioral and risky behaviors, attitudes, and perceptions that can result in teenage pregnancy.
Consequently, teenage pregnancy directly affects the economy. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy states (2002), ‘Teen childbearing costs taxpayers at least $7 billion each year in direct costs associated with health care, foster care, criminal justice, and public assistance, as well as lost tax revenues’ (p.6). In addition, many teen parents rely on welfare and government assistance to help them as they support and raise their child. There are several issues that arise for pregnant adolescents such as working full-time and continuing with educational goals while taking care of a baby. In fact, many teen mothers fail to even graduate, less than four of 10 teen mothers who begin their families before age 18 ever complete high school (‘The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy,’ 2002). Additional consequences that are inclusive to teenage pregnancy also include health or developmental problems and living in poverty. Since many adolescents are unprepared to mentally take care on the role of a parent, children of teenagers might be frequently abused or neglected. In fact, children who are born to teen mothers who are even 20 to 21 years old are 39 percent more likely to have a report of child abuse or neglect during the first five years after birth (Hoffman & Maynard, 2007). The research provided demonstrates the real-life consequences of teenage pregnancy and how the scope of the problem never changes because of the social cycle and patterns that keep repeating. Most of these children born to teen parents, in turn, model that exact behavior and become teenagers themselves. Thus, the cycle of teenage pregnancy is a social pattern that continues.
Although the problem of teenage pregnancy has significantly declined, society must continue to respond effectively and responsibly to the problem. Society has currently addressed the problem by offering health and sex education in the school environment to spread awareness and preventative measures. According to Sawhill (2000), ‘The proportion of adolescents who have received formal education about these dangers has increased during the past decade, a fact that has had an effect on the extent of sexual activity among this group’ (p.10). In addition, society has contributed to the creation of programs like Planned Parenthood. These programs are an easy way for adolescents to obtain birth control or contraceptives without their parents knowing. Media outlets and TV shows have also tried to spread awareness by airing shows like Teen Mom or The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Society has responded by acknowledging the problem and finding ways to prevent it. However, the problem of teenage pregnancy still remains.
Although society has provided in a meaningful manner, one alternative solution to the problem is to create programs where family members and teenagers can openly talk to one another. The problem starts at home and many adolescent need a role model and someone to instill proper morals, values, and beliefs. By spreading awareness and sharing strategies that encourage families to promote meaningful relationships with their children, society can work to prevent teenage pregnancy. All kinds of families have emerged to threaten the status quo, family structure may violates many individuals’ core values of providing a home that offers emotional and financial stability, comfort, and security (Korgen & Furst, 2012). That is why an effective solution requires family members to promote abstinence and or improve communication methods to provide the security that adolescents need. Programs that offer free counseling are an effective way to get teenagers to open up about their problems. In conclusion, the number one way to prevent teenage pregnancy is to create a program that enables families and their loved ones to openly communicate without being judged.