Causes and Effects of Teenage Pregnancy
The current paper analyzes the common causes and overall consequences of teenage pregnancy. In order to analyze the issue, various information has been collected from reliable scholarly sources. According to most of the research and studies, peer pressure, lack of knowledge about safe sex, glamorization of teenage pregnancy, lack of family attention and drug/ alchohol addictions are among the major causes of teenage pregnancy. Also, in some cases, sexual harassment, rape, traditional customs become the reason of adolescent childbearing. The teenage pregnancy affects the teen mothers, their children, and the society in general. Teenage mothers usually have lower education and income, compared to those who delay their childbearing. Also, such teenage mothers suffer from various health and social problems. Moreover, poor standard of living and negative environment affects the physical and psychological development of a child. The cost of teenage pregnancy also cannot be ignored.
Pregnancy is one of the wonderful periods of woman’s life, as she enjoys each and every moment of it in delightful anticipation to hold the child in her arms. Also, it brings positive atmosphere and joyful feeling among her close-ones. On the contrary, teenage pregnancy has been considered as a burden, not only to the girl, but also to her family. Arthur Campbell famously quoted, “The girl who has an illegitimate child at the age of 16 suddenly has 90 percent of her life’s script written for her” (Hoffman & Maynard, 2008). Moreover, the National Research Council Report has proved that the teenage mothers are at greater risk of economic and social detriment throughout their lives (Hoffman & Maynard, 2008). In a way, teenage pregnancy is the serious issue, which causes significant negative effects for teen parents, their children, and other family members. Overall, it creates a drastic impact on the society. In order to promote the well-being of child and lower the negative effects associated with the adolescent childbearing, it is necessary to adopt comprehensive plans and policies for reducing the rate of teenage pregnancies. The purpose of this paper is to analyze various causes and effects of teenage pregnancy.
Teenage pregnancy and early childbearing remain serious concerns in the US. Each year, almost 7.5% of all 15- to 19-year-old teen girls become pregnant in the US (Hoffman & Maynard, 2008). Among the developed countries, the United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate. It is almost twice higher than that of the UK, four times higher than that of Germany and France, and over 10 times than that of Japan. In the US, 34% of girls get pregnant at least once, prior to the age of 20. Less than 33% of teen mothers complete their high school education and only 1.5% complete their college education. The maternal death rate for teen mothers is 2.5 times higher than for mature mothers from the age group of 20 to 24. Moreover, each year, the US taxpayers spend around $7 billion on teen pregnancies (Teen Pregnancy and Sex Education in America: Cause and Effect, n.d.).
Teenagers usually feel excessive pressure to fit in with their mates. Often teens come under the influence of their friends, while making decision about sexual relationship. Even when they are not fully prepared for any sexual relationship, they get involved in it to appear sophisticated and cool among their peers. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 29% of teenage pregnant girls have reported that they felt pressured to involve in sexual intercourse, and 33% pregnant teens have stated that though they were not ready for a sexual relationship, they went ahead, in order to avoid rejection or ridicule (Langham, 2010).
Lack of Family Attention
Teenagers are more likely prone to the unintended pregnancy if they lack proper guidance from their parents. In today’s modern society, most of the parents have busy work-schedule, which prevent them from supporting and providing proper guidance to make sensible decision on sex-related issues. Also, poor family relationship, consideration of sex related topics and sex talks as a taboo, and conservative culture or tradition can restrict the teenagers from seeking sex education from their parents. Such teens are more likely turn to their friends for support, leading to misguidance or misconception about sexual relationship (Langham, 2010).
Lack of Knowledge and Glamorization of Pregnancy
Most of the teenagers are unaware of devastating consequences early parenthood can lead to. Teenagers, who do not have proper knowledge about safe sex, are more likely to have an unwanted pregnancy. According to the website, DailyRecord, often teens receive inappropriate information from videos, movies, or friends, which reflect on their attitude and approach towards the sex. Also, unsafe sex and incorrect information can increase the risk of various sexual diseases and infections. Moreover, today’s movie industry and mass media are encouraging teen pregnancy by glamorizing it. According to ABC’s “Good Morning America,” glamorization of teenage pregnant characters in movies promotes reckless sexual activities and pregnancy rates among the teenagers. Often teen pregnancy is viewed as an effective way to gain attention and reputation among the friends and society (Langham, 2010).
Culture and Tradition
Often culture and tradition play vital role in teenage pregnancy. It is customary in some customs and traditions for females to marry in early age and give birth soon after menstruation begins. Such customs are more identified in developing and poor countries. Marriage age in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Western Asia is sixteen, eighteen, and nineteen years, respectively. Also, in most of the regions, young girls are subject to gender inequality and are denied of the right to choose life partner or decide when to marry (Leishman & Moir, 2007).
Sexual abuse or rape is one of the basic causes of unintended pregnancy. According to the reports of the Guttmacher Institute, around 43 to 62% of pregnant teens confirmed that they were sexually abused and almost two-thirds reported that their male partners are as old as 27. Around 5% of total teen pregnancies are the consequence of a rape (Langham, 2010).
According to the website, Love to Know, alcohol and drug addictions can cause pregnancy among teenagers. Often, teens experiment with alcohol and drugs. Drug addiction is contributing to about 75% pregnancies that occur between the age group of 14 to 21 years. Almost 91% of pregnant teenagers acknowledged that though they were drinking at the time, they did not pre-plan sex before drinking (Langham, 2010).
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Consequences of Teen Childbearing for Mothers
Early pregnancy significantly affects the lives of teen mothers. According to the data of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), social, educational, economical attainment differ remarkably between teenage and mature mothers. According to its report, teen mothers bear 1.3 more children on average than women who delay. Also, there are more teen mothers aged 14 to 30 who are single mothers, than those women who delay pregnancy. Loneliness, worries about future, and responsibilities in early age of physical and psychological development, trigger various mental disorders among teen mothers. They are prone to depression, chronic anxiety disorder, drugs, alcohol addiction, and suicidal behavior. Also, due to the lower educational attainment, teen mothers are less successful in their professional career. According to the NLSY, by age 30, the annual income of teen mothers are only 57% of the earnings of those who delay childbearing. In a way, it affects the standard of living of teen mothers and her family and increases their financial troubles (Hoffman & Maynard, 2008).
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, in most of the teenage pregnancy cases, critical medical complications occur. Often, teens do not receive sufficient medical care during the pregnancy, leading to pregnancy complications, such as anemia, high blood pressure, toxemia, premature birth of the baby, or placenta previa (Bodeeb, 2010).
Consequences of Teen Pregnancy for Children
Teenage pregnancy not only brings a wide range of problems to the mother, but also to her child. Pregnant teenagers are at greater risk of fetal distress, sudden infant death syndrome, and delivering a pre-mature baby. Even after the birth, the babies are at a higher risk of minor acute infections, accidental trauma, pre-mature complications, and poisoning. Children born to teenage mothers often suffer from social neglect, physical and mental abuse. Due to the poverty, such children do not receive adequate education, health care and other basic necessities. Parenting inexperience, poor family relationship and poverty affect the overall psychological and physical status of a child. Such children are prone to criminal and violent behaviors. Also, it has seen that children of teenage mothers are more likely to become teenage parents themselves (Understanding Cause and Effects of Teenage Pregnancy, 2012).
Cost of Teenage Pregnancy
The economic costs of adolescent childbearing are endured not only by the teen mothers, but also by the taxpayers and the rest of the society. According to the official reports, in 2004, the average annual cost to US taxpayers of teenage pregnancies is an estimated $7.3 billion or $1445 per teen mother. Due to the lower productivity of teenage mothers and their children, children born to teen mothers contribute an estimate of $2.5 billion less annual income and greater consumption of taxes than if their mothers delayed childbearing. Moreover, teen pregnancy result into additional $1.58 billion for medical assistance of children, $1.84 billion to maintain laws and peace, and $2 billion for extra foster care costs each year in taxpayer expenditures (Hoffman & Maynard, 2008).
In conclusion, teenage pregnancy is a critical issue in today’s society, which is affecting overall society. Various reports and studies have regularly shown that teenage pregnancy causes significant negative effects on the health of both, the mother and child. Due to the poor educational qualification, teenage mothers often suffer from financial problems. Also, poor family relationship, inadequate health and education facilities, affect the physical and psychological development of their child, encouraging the criminal behavior and drug addiction among them. Teenage pregnancy causes extra burden to the taxpayers too. In a way, in order to maintain the health of the society, and develop happy and peaceful society, it is essential to take revolutionary steps to restrain growing numbers of teenage pregnancies in the country.