In this day and age the rate of teenagers who become pregnant has substantially increased. I myself am not one of them, but having a few friends who became pregnant at a very young age I’ve learned quite a bit about it. Now, I am not saying that teenage pregnancy is wrong or right. For some teenagers it could be a very joyful experience if they are mature enough to handle it. It can teach them lessons about life and responsibility. For the less mature teens though, it’s a disaster.
In that case, they shouldn’t have been having sex in the first place if they weren’t up to facing the consequences. Some may say, “How did this happen? We used protection?” Condoms and birth control are not 100% effective when it comes to avoiding pregnancy. Many of these methods have flaws which can result in becoming impregnated. Being a teenager with a child can be very hard. And in almost all cases, it is.
A person has a new responsibility. A responsibility so large that other things in your life seem vaguely important in comparison. A person is responsible for a child, a human being, a life. We live in a tough world and we all have tough lives. Teenage pregnancy at times goes unrecognized because the birth rate is still high.
Even though “The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) directly funds teen pregnancy prevention programs in nearly 2,234 communities which is about 47 percent of all communities across the country”, there is still a large number of teenage pregnancies occurring (Almanac of Policy Issues). One of the reasons teen pregnancy is so illusive to many people is that most teenagers by the age of sixteen have had sex; abstinence isn’t part of our vocabulary. “Thirteen percent of all United States births are to teens, each year approximately one million U.S. teenagers become pregnant, about 40 percent of American women become pregnant before the age of 20 and about 78 percent of teenage pregnancies are unintended, accounting forone-quarter of all accidental pregnancies per year” (Planned Parenthood).
Teenagers do not know enough about sex and the consequences it may bring. Aside from becoming pregnant, it is very much possible to get sexually transmitted diseases, which may pass on to the baby. Some of these diseases, such as HIV, may be fatal. If they are not dangerous, at times they are untreatable. A person would be left with dealing with the diseases for the rest of his or her life. “President Bush’s budget for fiscal year 2003 provides an additional $33 million in funding for abstinence education, fulfilling the President’s promise to increase abstinence funding to $135 million” (Almanac of Policy Issues).
Teenage pregnancies bring many problems to young mothers. When a young person between the ages of fifteen or seventeen has a baby, this person is most likely not mature enough to handle a child. As I have seen, young mothers feel the need to go out and be with friends instead of sitting at home with a crying child. Young mothers will also most likely be less educated than someone who has a baby at 25 years old.
Unintended pregnancy may cause girls to drop out of high schools. Some girls may have a chance of going to college after the baby is grown up, but a lot of women may never get another chance of getting valuable education. Not attending a college or a university can mean not attaining a degree which may be necessary for a job.
Teenagers are also more likely to use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. These substances are very dangerous to a child’s life and can lead to several emotional and physical disabilities later in life when the baby is born. “In addition to disruptive psychosocial consequences, adverse biological effects of early childbearing on obstetric course and infant outcome have been reported” (Scott 195). In the world today there are many ways to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
The number onemethod that is not being taught to children today is the complete abstinence from sexual activities. The media, television, and magazines are full of sexual messages. The number of schools that teach sex education is low and it needs to be raised. Sex education should focus on abstinence of sexual activities, the costs of those activities (pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases), and prevention methods.
However, the primary message of these programs needs to be that teens can and should postpone sexual activity. To all schools, adding these programs, would only mean benefits because children would get involved. Instead of spending time out with friends, kids could be in a learning environment with benefits for the future. This review is focused on the effect certain programs have on teen sexual activity.
It could be that these programs have positive effects beyond these specific measuresbuilding adolescent self-esteem or knowledge of HIV risks, for instance. These programs could be made as a necessary part of school curriculum. This would mean adding only one class to a student’s schedule throughout their middle or high school career. This additional class period could save many young teens from becoming early parents.
The costs of these programs would not change because it would be part of a curriculum. Children in schools would only have to pay for books which could range from $30 to $70. The people that would most likely not benefit from these programs are the teachers. If costs of adding these programs to the regular school curriculum would not raise, then a teacher’s salary would not change as well. However, aside from school-based classes, many other community programs may be added. Middle and high school children can interact with much younger kids in order to see the responsibility of having a child.
Some schools already have a program where a student may choose to take care of a computer programmed baby for a certain amount of time. This provides excellent opportunity for a young person to see all duties of having a child. If at times abstinence cannot be escaped, there are programs for teens that allows them to receive birth control prescriptions.
One worldwide program that even keeps the person’s information confidential and allows funding for prescriptions is Planned Parenthood. Their clinics are located in many towns and are accessible to people who choose to use birth control. Planned Parenthood also provides exams and other tests, such as a pregnancy test. Action should be taken right this moment.
There are ways to solve the teenage pregnancy problem. People also need to realize that if nothing is being done, the problem will not go away. By adding sex education classes and community programs, many lives could be improved, because having a child when one is a teen is not success.
- Almanac of Policy Issues. 10 June 2002. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 4 Mar. 2005 .
- Jones, Elise F., Jacqueline Darroch Forrest, Noreen Goldman, Stanley Henshaw, Richard Lincoln, Jeannie I. Rosoff, Charles F. Westoff, and Deirdre Wulf. Teenage Pregnancy in Industrialized Countries. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1986.
- Planned Parenthood. Dec. 1999. 4 Mar. 2005 .
- Scott, Keith G. ed., Tiffany Field, ed., Euan G. Robertson, ed. Teenage Parents and Their Offspring. New York: Grune ; Stratton, Inc., 1981.
- Tender, Diana. Services to Teen Mothers in New York City. New York: Community Council Of Greater New York, 1982