- Family and Parenting
Teen Pregnancy, The Cause, And How It Effects Everyone.
What Is Teen Pregnancy?
The old definition for teen pregnancy is "A pregnancy where either the mother or father are between the ages of thirteen and eighteen".
The new definition is "A social trend brought on by television and wrongful social acceptance".
Of course teen pregnancy is not a new problem. My great-grandmother was thirteen, my grandmother fifteen, and my mother seventeen when they had their first children. Some say that it was just how things were done in the old days. Some people say that it is getting better now. They are wrong. In fact, some studies show that the numbers of teen mothers are declining. However, the numbers of teen abortions are rising. So, keeping on these numbers, teen pregnancy has been rising steadily.
In fact, there is a ten year-old girl at the school by my house that is currently expecting. Ten.
Though shows such as "16 and Pregnant" have brought this issue to the public eye in order to perhaps shed some insight on this issue, it has, in fact, allowed teenagers to think that teen pregnancy is both cool and warranted. By letting our children think this way, we are at risk for their own pregnancy, which is wrong not only on social standards, but for their mental and physical health as well.
16 and Pregnant
MTV launched their trademark show thinking that they were going to get great ratings. They were right. Teens loved the show that was supposed to be geared towards adults. The show flaunted these pregnant children and the lavish life they were having. Surrounded by the attention that so many teens crave, they showed the world that having a child is not a big deal; that the life that they harbored was something to make money and attention.
And the media covering pregnant teens is not the only media to blame. Shows, movies, and books that create a more sexually-charged life around the teens that already are coping with coursing hormones are to blame. We should not allow our teenagers to watch things that will bring about even more confusion than what nature intended. Anything that is overflowing in sex or sensuality, especially involving teenagers, should be taken away from their attention. Rap music, in particular, is becoming an ever-increasing source of such sexuality.
Brain Differences Between Adults and Teens
What Is Wrong With Teen Pregnancy, Anyway?
The human brain in truly an amazing thing. Grey matter is not at all completely present in the growing human being. As a matter of fact, it continues building in volume until the teenage years. Because of the imbalance that this great change brings, teenagers are more likely to partake in dangerous behaviors.
Dr. Giedd comments, "Adolescence is a time of substantial neurobiological and behavioral change, but the teen brain is not a broken or defective adult brain. The adaptive potential of the overproduction/selective elimination process, increased connectivity and integration of disparate brain functions, changing reward systems and frontal/limbic balance, and the accompanying behaviors of separation from family of origin, increased risk taking, and increased sensation seeking have been highly adaptive in our past and may be so in our future. These changes and the enormous plasticity of the teen brain make adolescence a time of great risk and great opportunity."
Because the teenager is more likely to commit an act that is perhaps more dangerous is not a free pass. Teenagers are more than cognitive and can make great decisions, but usually not without some sort of moral guidance. If your teenager is more prone to talk with friends, you have a potential problem. While it is part of the growth process that the teen grows away from the parent and more towards society, the society your teen may be involved with could be a hazard to their decision-making. Curiosity in the opposite sex is a natural part of growing up, but egging it on with peer pressure can lead to pregnancy. If your teenager is more prone to talk with you, talk to him or her about safe sex, at the very least. It is best for them to be abstinent, but when in doubt, just allow your teen to start birth control. Let them know that birth control is not a pass to go out and have sex, but it is better to have a back-up plan in case of emergency.
Another dangerous part of teen pregnancy is the physical aspect of the act of birth. The human body is not ready for handling a baby at this early point in life. Though it is physically possible for the mother to give birth, it takes its toll. Babies are born underweight, without the organs needed to sustain life, along with a myriad of other birth defects due to the mother's body and the body's incapability to healthily produce an offspring. Along with the physical drain of the mother comes the psychological wear and tear.
As stated before, the mother is not mentally capable of making correct decisions in this stage of her life. Now, if she bears this child, her psychological state is in further turmoil what with the hormones of the pregnancy taking their toll on top of the natural hormones she is already trying to cope with. These psychological changes can affect the mother and child very negatively with problems such as PTSD, postpartum depression and self-esteem issues.
Teens do not realize that though it is "cool" to have a child at fifteen, that child will be under their care for eighteen years. This means that their peers will grow up and see that having a child is not cool and still, the teen is 'stuck' as a mother. This makes social acceptance very difficult in the later years. Though teen mothers usually don't even finish high school, the percentage that do are a subject of ridicule and ostracism. College can be tougher on these girls because they will never get the chance to grow up as a normal woman. Society can be cruel to these girls later on.
Because of this, there is a chance that the child will be neglected or even abused outright by its teen parents. Of course there are a lot of teen parents that become great teen parents but the facts show that these people are simply not ready to embark upon such a mission as being a responsible parent.
The teen is not ready to be a parent. No matter how media projects the situation, they are just not ready.
States and Teen Pregnancy
How many teens are becoming pregnant?
- Despite declines in rates of teen pregnancy in the U.S., about 820,000 teens become pregnant each year. That means that 34 percent of teenagers have at least one pregnancy before they turn 20.
- 79 percent of teenagers who become pregnant are unmarried.
- Utah's teen pregnancy rate is high, as well as Southern teen pregnancy but these are areas where women still get married prior to the age of 20 with some regularity (although this is changing).
- 80 percent of teenage pregnancies are unintended.
- Nearly four in ten teenage girls whose first intercourse experience happened at 13 or 14 report that the sex was unwanted or involuntary.
- The main rise in the teen pregnancy rate is among girls younger than 15*
- Close to 25 percent of teen mothers have a second child within two years of the first birth.*
Social, educational and financial costs of teen pregnancy
- The United State spends $7 billion each year due to the costs of teen pregnancy.
- Only one-third of teenage mothers complete high school and receive their diplomas
- By age 30, only 1.5 percent of women who had pregnancies as a teenager have a college degree.
- 80 percent of unmarried teen mothers end up on welfare
- Within the first year of becoming teen mothers, one-half of unmarried teen mothers go on welfare.*
- The daughters of teen mothers are 22 percent more likely than their peers to become teen mothers.
- Sons of teenaged mothers have a 13 percent greater chance of ending up in prison as compared to their peers.
How much greater is the U.S. teen pregnancy rate than other countries?*
- Greater teen pregnancy rates translate into higher abortion in the United States for the industrialized world.
- The U.S. has twice the teen pregnancy rate as Canada
- Both Germany and France have a teen pregnancy rate that is four times lower than the U.S.
- Japan's teen pregnancy rate is eight times lower the United States
What do teens think of sexual activity?*
- 82 percent feel that teens should not be sexually active.
- 72 percent agreed that teens that are sexually active should have access to birth control.
- 73 percent feel that being a virgin should not be embarrassing
- 58 percent feel that high-school age teens should not be sexually active
- Fewer than one half of teens in high school have had sex
- 67 percent of teens who have had sex wish that they had waited (60 percent of boys and 77 percent of girls