Teen Pregnancy—A Social Issue

After researching various statistics, I found that premarital pregnancy is quite prevalent in teenagers throughout the world. Teen pregnancy is one of the most difficult experiences a young person might ever face when it interrupts school or other plans. It can create an emotional crisis resulting in feelings of shame and fear, and it may appear that you will crumble under pressures in your environment. The stress of how one would break the news to their parents might be even greater, and finding help may seem an impossible task. People might think that they can help others, or one might be too embarrassed to search for help. For the most part, when one sees teenagers raising children, we often think that the teen has been raped or is too mature for their age. For this reason, some totally miss the issues that one must have been exposed to in their society, the society of their home, community, school. There are many viewpoints as to why teenage females are having so many children out of wedlock. However, the facts are obvious—teenaged females are highly influenced by many social issues, but those with the lack of strong parental guidance, sex education, and positive mass media are more likely to have a premarital pregnancy.

As one travels the globe, they will find that industrialized and developing countries have distinctly different rates of teenage pregnancy. In the online article, “Teen Pregnancy on the Rise,” Sipokazi Maposa says that in developed countries, teenage pregnancies are associated with many social issues: lower educational levels, higher rates of poverty, and no strong parental guidance in the teenagers life. Maposa discusses the challenges which teens in Africa face as the teenage pregnancy rate increase. She contributes a wealth of information as to why teens have children at such a young age. Maposa suggests that the primary reason for teen pregnancy is the lack of communication between them and their parent(s). This is a useful source because it shows how teenage pregnancy is a more of a social issue than physical or emotional issue. Teens that have no strong father figure or parental guidance will be more likely to have children at an early age. The child provides positive regard (love), affection, and fulfills the social loss. Therefore, the article shows the effects that lack of parental guidance, sex education, and mass media has on teenage pregnancy, and how it relates teenage pregnancy to foster homes.

Most people who are put into foster homes do not come from parents of strong guidance, because indeed they lost their children. An online report, “Fostering Hope: Preventing Teen Pregnancy among Foster Youth” examined how teenage pregnancy relates to foster care sates Love. The reports shows that foster youth that have lost their parents and end up in a foster home are less prone to having teenage pregnancies. Therefore, the correlation breaks because even though youth do not have their biological parents they still have some type of parental guidance. Consequently, most foster homes do have strong parental guidance, control over sex education, and negative mass media because there are so many restrictions as to what foster homes can and cannot perform by law.

With this information, one would conclude that when someone is put into a foster home they turn out not to be pregnant at a one age. This is true according to a study performed to examine how common teenage pregnancy is among young women in and aging out of foster care and to determine whether the risk of becoming pregnant can be reduced by extending foster care beyond age 18. Amy Dworsky states that the study used data from the first two waves of the Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth, a longitudinal study of foster youth making the transition to adulthood in three Midwestern states, as well as the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Dworsky examined the relationship between care status and the risk of teenage pregnancy. Foster youth are more likely to experience teenage pregnancy than their peers in the general population, but staying in care seems to mitigate their risk of becoming pregnant even after the effects of other factors are taken into account. The findings of the study was to provide additional evidence of the need for a more concerted effort by child welfare agencies to help youth in foster homes avoid becoming pregnant. It would suggest that allowing young people to remain in foster care beyond age 18 may be one way to reduce teenage pregnancy among this population.

Even the federal government has found teenage pregnancy to be a social issue in which lack of parental guidance, sex education, and positive media has been recognized. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), teenage pregnancy has been rising steadily from 1987 to 1991; the birthrate for teens aged 15-19 declined for 10 straight years, from a high of 62.1 per 1,000 teens aged 15-19 in 1991 to a record low of 45.9 in 2001, according to preliminary figures. The birthrate for young teenagers aged 15-17 fell 8 percent from 2000 to 2001, reaching 25.3 births per 1,000 teenagers. All 50 states had a decline in their teen birthrates between 1991 and 2000, with 10 states recording declines of more than 20 percent during this period. Recent declines in both birth and abortion rates indicate that teen pregnancy rates are continuing to fall. Overall teen pregnancy rates have dropped 19 percent since 1991. About 900,000 pregnancies occur each year among American teenagers aged 15-19. Most of these pregnancies are unintended. Almost 190,000 teens aged 17 and younger have children are not in school, have no parents around, and are overtaken by the imagery of mass media.

After seeing those statistics, if makes one wonder if there are any more studies which will create a solution. President George Bush and the HHS sent researchers to Detroit, Michigan for a study to be conducted. They have found that the increase in teenage pregnancy has arisen out of social issues as well. The article “Teen Pregnancy” focuses on the potentials causes: society, individual families, and media. The article states how society has embraced teenage pregnancy in the United States. Society relates to our schools and media which have caused teen pregnancy to increase. Finally, the report presented solutions to the decrease teenage pregnancy: create pregnancy-prevention programs, public attention on interventions, and highlight the challenges of becoming a teenage parent. All of the solutions will be effective, encouraging, and empowering. “There are significantly more teenage pregnancies in the United States than all other developing countries,” states Cleo Moore in the Complete and Authoritative Guide. He also claims that out of every five women in their teens, two will become pregnant in the United States. Teen pregnancy rates have increased 23% from 1972 to 1990. In order to come to a solution it is important to examine why teenage pregnancy is so high in the United States. When one analyzes teen pregnancy, an effective way to get to the root of the problem is using the critical component of the sociological imagination.

Mass media is designed to reach large audiences with technology. Its purpose is meant to give us entertainment and information we need to act as a society. Media is everywhere; there is no escaping from it. Almost every home in America has at least one TV, the internet, and a cell phone. You cannot drive down the street without seeing billboard signs. Checking out at the grocery store can be tricky if trying to avoid magazines. There are more forms of media available today than ever before; consequently, teens are exposed to a lot of information. The media is supposed to portray what is normal; therefore, it affects what society considers normal. Teens are much more impressionable then adults. What the media tells them is normal affects them more. The media’s portrayal of body image affects teens negatively through using stereotypes, encouraging sexual behavior, and promoting unnecessary products. The media portrays single parent homes, teen pregnancy, and the social issue that America faces in a positive light. Music Television (MTV) has several shows which portray teen pregnancy as a positive attribute of life: Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant. Teen Mom is an American reality television series that premiered on MTV on December 8, 2009. The series is a spin-off of 16 and Pregnant and chronicles the lives of four of the original teenagers from that series as they navigate their first year of motherhood. In addition to showing the teenage motherhood, the show focuses on themes of changing relationships; specifically, those of the family, friends, couples, and school. It shows the struggles teenagers have to go through to raise their children. This show adds to the point that the media can display teenage pregnancy in a way that makes other teenagers want to become pregnant. Now people get pregnant because they have an excuse: I have social problem and now I can get pregnant. Richard Smith, a Washtenaw Community College student, states, “The American popular culture glorifies sex and ignores responsibility. Beginning in early childhood, young people are bombarded with sexual messages. Especially from the world of media, the messages are subliminal.” The urge to have sex and get pregnancy is now stronger because of the fact that one has an encounter with media. Likewise, 16 and Pregnant is also a MTV reality television series produced by Morgan J. Freeman, and was first broadcast on June 11, 2009. It follows the stories of pregnant teenage girls in high school dealing with the hardships of teenage pregnancy. Each episode features a different teenage girl, with the episode typically beginning when she is 4 1?2–8 months into her pregnancy. Scott Brown, church member, discusses that although teenage pregnancy is not inevitable, some life circumstances place girls at higher risk of becoming teen mothers. These include poverty, poor school performance, and growing up in a single parent household. One can either have a mother who was an adolescent mother, or have no strong parental guidance with lack of sex education and positive media. There are teenagers who are getting pregnant just to be on these reality television shows, according to Rob Shuter. Shuter claims in an online article, “Teens Become Pregnant to get on Teen Mom,” that teenagers are getting pregnant just to get an audition on the reality television shows. Now teenagers, of course, get pregnant for many reasons, but most teens that get pregnant come from broken homes and have no strong parental guidance. The web article “Teen Help” states that despite declines in rates of teen pregnancy in the United States, about 820,000 teens become pregnant each year. That means that 34 percent of teenagers have at least one pregnancy before they turn 20. Teen Help declares that 79 percent of the teenagers who get pregnant are unmarried. According to the National Vital Statistics Reports, there is a connection with the pregnancy and divorce rates in America. This is quite interesting because many do not associate divorce with pregnancy as they think that there is no longer a sexual urge with the individuals. Divorce does not only affect the adults, but the children as well. Therefore, those children can lose the parental guidance needed to keep them from immoral ideals such as premarital sex and pregnancy. According to the article “Lack of Parental Guidance Contributes to Teen Pregnancy,” many pregnant teenagers do not have any cognition of the central facts of sexuality.” This means that the teenagers have no idea what they are doing. This points back at the parents, because even though children get sex education in elementary, they do not get the “real” information until their parents have talked to them.

The “Lack of Parental Guidance Contributes to Teen Pregnancy,” states that most people evade their children from talking about sex. In some cases, they provide false information regarding sex and discourage their children to participate in any informative discussion about sex. In some cases, teenage mothers are not well educated about sex before getting pregnant and thus this leads to lack of communication between the parents and the children. Steven Black, child of teenage parent states, “I think the lack of parental guidance is a strong influence on teenage pregnancy. The fact remains that more teenagers/adolescents are having babies, and the teenager would not see the problem with sex at a young age since their parents had sex at a young age.” Emily, a college student at Eastern Michigan University claims that she was pressured into having sex with her boyfriend when she was thirteen, but neither of her parents had taught her how to deal with this pressure and to say “no”. The lack of communication, supervision, and guidance is the main result of teenagers becoming pregnant in America. There are so many cases, such as Emily’s, where young girls have not been taught about self-respect and guided to say no to sex.

There is still work to be done because the lack of education on safe sex, whether it’s from parents, schools, or otherwise, is not yet preventing teenage pregnancy. Many teenagers are not taught about methods of birth control and how to deal with peers who pressure them into having sex before they are ready. Some teens have said to be pressured into having sex with their boyfriend when the teen was young and yet no one had taught these teens how to deal with this pressure or to say “no”. According to an online new article, “Sex Education the Works” educating teenagers about their sexual behavior and activity create skills helps to inform them about acting on these choices. When providing sex education it can seem daunting because it means tackling a sensitive issue and involves a variety of people a parents, schools, community groups and health service providers. However, because sex education comprises many individual activities, which take place across a wide range of settings and periods of time, there are lots of opportunities to contribute.

Nevertheless, it is often argued that teenage pregnancy has multiple results as to why it is more prevalent. In some societies, early marriage and traditional gender roles are important factors in the rate of teenage pregnancy. For example, in some sub-Saharan African countries, early pregnancy is often seen as a blessing because it is proof of the young woman’s fertility. In the Indian subcontinent, early marriage and pregnancy is more common in traditional rural communities compared to the rate in cities. The various areas have created an educational plan for their youth, and it has helped dramatically. Now, there are those who say that society can be blamed for many things, but teenage pregnancy is not one. Most people blame the individual teenagers for creating this epidemic across the world. There have always been parents who have not been strong figures in their child’s lives, but the child never had a teenage pregnancy. Sex education can only teach a person so much, but if one does not inhabit what they have been taught, then they really have not learned anything at all. Finally, the mass media says to do many things and portrays many negative and immoral activities, but teenagers, like any other age group, have to decide what is right and wrong. Christ Lewis, student at Washtenaw Community College and child of a teenage mother states that society can deal you a bad hand of cards, but it’s how you response to what you do with what you have been given. Schoffner claims, “Many issues through society will come forth, but you have to know how to handle it.” Of course, society has created a world for humans to fail and do wrong, but in the end the decision is up to the individual.

When one looks at teenage pregnancy, especially in America, they see a high rate of pregnancies. It would make a person wonder, “Why is pregnancy prevalent in teenagers?” The answer is quite simply, yet interesting…teenagers who do not have strong parental guidance, sex education, and positive media reinforcement are more prone to a premarital pregnancy. Imagine a young girl, who’s in school, makes honor roll, helps her community, and is just an all-around good person. However, she has never had strong, consistent parental guidance in her life. She has never been taught about birth control, and the how to deal with peer pressure. She has the media pressuring her every day. Last week she was pressured into having sex with a guy that was cool and popular in their school, and just a few days ago she found out that she was pregnant. Now she has to go tell her parents (who have never cared before) about the news. This news is shocking, but happens every day in America and throughout the world. People can blame the teenagers who get pregnant, but our society is the blame! The lack of parental guidance, sex education, and positivity media on the outlook of pregnancy has impacted the high rates of teen pregnancy across the world. Teen pregnancy is one of the most difficult experiences a young person might ever face when it interrupts school or other plans. For the most part, when one sees teenagers raising children, we often think that the teen has been raped or is more mature for their age. For this reason, some totally miss these social issues in which all have great impact on the teenagers decision on getting pregnant or not. There are many viewpoints as to why teenage females are becoming pregnant at such a young age. However, the information is apparent—teenaged females who lack of strong parental guidance, sex education, and positive mass media are more likely to have a premarital pregnancy.

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