It Takes A Village- A Social Look at Teen Pregnancy
Teen Pregnancy and Its Impact on The Environment
The United States ranks among the highest in the world for teen pregnancies. A report by Devi Akella and Melissa Jordan show a direct correlation between lower socioeconomic status and higher instances of teen pregnancies. The report used the Social Learning Theory concepts of Albert Bandura to study the behavior practices of the pregnant teens. Theirs study showed, much like the Social Learning Theory, that the young girls were imitating behaviors of their mothers, friends, or older siblings. Society seems to have become immune to the rise in teen pregnancies, chalking it up to young girls following the patterns of their mothers. While there are often times when parents hope to see their children follow in their footsteps, for instance, if one or both parents are doctors or lawyers. Teen pregnancy, however, is a practice that should be discouraged. Teen pregnancy creates a burden on the communities they live in. The family community will sometimes share the responsibility of helping to raise the child, often the child rearing falls on the community and its resources. Many pregnant teenagers are unsuccessful at staying in school and pursuing a decent education, and therefore, as a result, struggle to maintain employment, and then the young mom must rely on community resources and assistance with meeting the needs necessary to raise her child. This in turn impacts the community and environment because it is the community that assumes responsibility for the poor uneducated mother and her child.
A study was performed by interviewing 20 teenage mothers located in Albany, GA. The purpose of the study was to identify a pattern of similarities in teen pregnancy, such as environment, family dynamics, behavioral influences by peers or family members, as well as other information. The report indicates that, “The U.S. teen pregnancy and birth rates have dramatically declined over the past twenty years, however, the U.S. rates of teen childbearing still remain far higher than in other comparable countries in the world. “(Akella 2015). The report shows higher instances of teenage pregnancy among minority girls, “According to the research minority populations in the United States faces problems involving poverty, lack of education and quality healthcare.” (Akella 2015). While the problem with teenage pregnancy is not isolated to minorities, the research also provides enough proof to show a cycle of continued lack of importance placed on education as well as low income in the families of most of the young girls who became pregnant as teenagers.
Bandura’s Social Learning Theory suggests that, “People learn new behaviors by watching others in a social situation, absorb it and then imitate that behavior.” (Akella 2015), That has been observed in the report by the girls that were studied, suggesting that many of them came from poorer single parent homes with mothers who, themselves gave birth when they were teenagers, and have passed down this pattern of behavior to their own daughters. As stated, “According to differential association, those with whom they are in contact with, both directly and indirectly, expose people to acceptable and unacceptable behaviors as well as a variety of behavioral models.” (Akella 2015). Suggesting that over time, the young girls observe others, such as family members, friends, or their own mothers, who have children as teenagers and they begin to accept this as a normal way of life, and they themselves become young mothers. There are times when the teen girl becomes pregnant on purpose, because it is a learned way of life, and they either believe or concede to believe that it is the way life is supposed to be for them. In turn, the environment in which these young girls live in, eventually begin to accept it as well, and those who knows it may not be in the best interest of the teen mother, they just write it off to following habits of tradition, “Some of the research participants had been exposed to early motherhood through their mothers. The society in which they were growing was not condemning teenage motherhood. In spite of disappointment, shock and disapproval expressed by some of their mothers, the general intonation amongst so participants was “they were just following the footsteps of their mothers.”” (Akella 2015). Therefore, right or wrong, the culture that they live in, accepts the teen pregnancies as a form of, it is what it is.
Additionally, the report showed an overall sense of wanting to create a better life for their children, based on the interviews, “To some participants the baby had now become a symbol of motivation and them serious about their education and studies.” (Akella 2015). The girls interviewed, expressed interest in pursuing their education and future career goals in order to better themselves to support their children. Some of the girls even suggested they wished they had made better choices in regard to getting pregnant. They noted a desire to provide a better future for their children than what they would have otherwise.
The environmental impact on teenage pregnancy initials falls to the immediate family. As stated, “After the initial disappointment from participant’s parents, they received some support from their family, school system and the government. Family members usually mothers, grandmothers and aunties rallied around to provide childcare support and assistance to the teen mothers whenever they needed it.” (Akella 2015). However, most family members are not prepared to take on the responsibilities of helping raise the child of a teenage mother, and the help and support they can offer may be limited. After which, the community resources will need to be utilized. With services that assist with prenatal care, to getting the things the baby will need such as clothing, a car seat, and diapers, to beyond the birth of the baby with such things as medical insurance and infant formula, the teenage mothers will likely need to rely heavily on programs and services in the community to help provide most necessities.
In conclusion, the study shows a direct link between learned behaviors that had some influence on the high rate of teenage pregnancies. Using Bandura’s Social Learning Theory as a model, the study found that the young girls observed the behaviors of their own mothers, family members, or peers, along with the way society in their environments all but turned a blind eye to teenage pregnancy, and began to see that as an accepted way of life. However, the study also has shown that with the girls being interviewed a desire to provide a better life for their child including putting more focus on education. Even though there has been significant decrease in the rate of teenage pregnancies, based on the report, it is still safe to say that, given the limited amount of readily available resources available, children of teenage mothers become children of their communities, as the young mother will need the aid of her community and resources to raise her child.
Akella, Devi, and Melissa Jordan. "Impact of Social and Cultural Factors on Teenage Pregnancy." Researchgate. N.p., Jan. 2015. Web. 16 July 2017.