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Teenage pregnancy is one of the health and social issues that are critical in American society today. There is an outburst of out of marriage pregnancies in teenagers that is rapidly growing. This crisis threatens to subvert the United States. One million teenagers become pregnant yearly, 175,000 of them give birth to their firstborn kids and the U.S. has the highest rate in the world in regards to growing epidemic of teenage pregnancy.
Teenage pregnancies dropped sharply in the 1990s because they were able to get contraceptives that had increased. There was stabilized trend however in the previous decade and it has started to rise again. A nonprofit organization, Guttmacher Institute conducted a research that showed that there was a rise in the teen pregnancies by 3% in the year 2006, which was the first increase since the late 1980s (Dash 2003). The 2006 rate of teenage pregnancy was 71.9 pregnancies per 1000 women who were in the range of 15 to 19 years, 7 percent of these teenagers became pregnant, which was a 30% increase in 30 years since 2005 with the rate of 69.5% per 1000 (Banerjee and Mondal, 228).
The cost of teen pregnancy in the U.S. is at least $7 billion in a year and a 34% of teenage girls becoming pregnant before they reach 20 years, this about 820,000 teenagers a year. Eight out of ten of the pregnancies are unplanned for and unintended while 79% happens to unmarried teens. The rates for Hispanics and black American remains the highest compared to other groups in the U.S. Today Hispanics have the highest birth rates in the U.S. While back in the 1980s most teenagers got pregnant when they were already married, it is not the case today as majority of these teenagers are unmarried (Banerjee and Mondal, 230).
Teenage pregnancy in the U.S. has been on the rise. This is a problem because many teenagers get pregnant at very young ages and are not capable of taking care of the young ones by themselves. In the end they either give the baby up for adoption or struggle day in day out to make ends meet as they have responsibilities including taking care of a baby by a girl who is barely an adult. Most of the teenagers drop out of school and live on welfares; this is an approximate of 80% of teenage mothers. This is not enough to support the child. Sometimes the teenagers do not make it through the pregnancy because their bodies are not mature enough to handle the childbirth stress; they suffer from undernourishment leading to suffering of prolonged labor or a premature one (Checkland and James, 1999). Some of these teenagers do not even survive due to pregnancy complications and result in high death rates.
Teenage girls get pregnant due to lack safe sex education from schools, parents and they exchange ideas with their peers not knowing whether the information is correct or not. Sometimes this information may mislead them to have unprotected sex because they do not have the facts on how pregnancy occurs. Not all teenagers are taught birth control methods and the pressure that is exerted by peers to have sex should also be talked about this teenagers and know they can avoid it. The parents are the ones who need to guide the teenagers on sexuality and if this lacks, the teenagers stray as they are not guided on what to do and how.
Some parents give their children false information about sex so that they cannot do it, in most cases these teenagers want to try find out if that is really true (Macleod, 27).
Parental guidance is a vital part in keeping teenage girls from being pregnant. Increase in teenage pregnancy in the U.S. has been caused by exploitation of older men by raping the teenagers or even by members of the family who are already known. Many teenagers get pregnant because of rape and are more likely to become teenage mothers (Armstrong, 2001). There is a three times probability of teenage girls who have been sexually abused to be pregnant before they are even 18 years old. A younger teenager is likely to have non-voluntary sex or unwanted the first time. Close to four girls out of five have reported that at the ages of 13 or 14, have had sex that was not voluntary.
Most teenage pregnancies result in premature births and babies who have low birth weights of babies. This cannot be said to be a good start for any mother because there is a high likelihood that babies who have low birth weight, would have A.D.H.D and this poses the problem of whether they will even graduate from high school because of poor performance in schools. They also face more dangers of neglect and even abuse. Teenage mothers are likely not to go back to school, if they do, there is a chance they will not finish college like their counterparts who did not get pregnant during their teenage years. A mere 1.5% of teenage mothers have a degree by the age of 30. The teenagers may get married but most of them get divorced. An approximate of 10 % of teenagers who are married when they are younger than 18 years old get divorced after 10 years which is a comparison for the 20 % of women who married while they were 20 years old (Macleod, 1999). This in turn makes single mothers as a whole starting from the teenage mothers with the highest percentage of poverty rates of any group on the demographic. Sixty percent of those babies born to these teenagers are from extremely poor families.
Most teenage girls who have not had sex because they are abstaining, do so because it is against their beliefs in morality and spiritual values. Other reasons cited are fear of getting STDs; they have not met the right partner and avoiding pregnancy. It is reported that three out of four girls who have had sex have done it because of their boyfriends. Teenagers, closely and emotionally attached to their parents become sexually active later on in their teenage years hence likely not to have teen pregnancy. In the U.S. most people support the fact that teens should abstain and at the same time can get contraceptives easily.
In the U.S. 91 % of teenagers and 94 % of parents thought that it would be of importance that a strong message on abstinence from society be given to school going children until they finished high school. Seventy eight percent of the parents also thought that teenagers who are active in sex, should access contraceptives to help in teen pregnancy prevention. There has been an increase in the contraceptives use but it has been inconsistent. About three quarters of the teens first have sex using a condom mostly and teenagers who are sexually active and not on contraceptives are likely to become pregnant in their teens within a single year.
It is most likely that teenage mothers have limited earnings and opportunities in careers compared to women who have had their first kids after they have clocked 20 years due to lack of job skills. The problem of teen pregnancy has become more rampant and it is becoming more accepted. The media is encouraging teenagers to have more sex or the idea of doing things that they have seen on television. These include sex scenes and some talks on television about teens on television. They give out the wrong message that it is ok to get pregnant (Banerjee, 229). For example, the MTV show "Teen Mom" has given American teenagers the idea of getting pregnant so that they can become celebrities and be hosted in the shows. The teenagers are literally paid to star in the show and be followed around as they live their lives. Some teenagers get pregnant for such attention of being a celebrity and the pay.
Teen pregnancy has become a crisis in the U.S. costs taxpayers an approximate of $6.9 billion that is lost in health care, care in foster homes, public assistance increase in spending, tax revenues, incarceration of sons born of teen mothers, and the justice criminal system that the government can no longer be able to afford or entertain teen pregnancies.
Teenage pregnancy is problem that is growing fast and requires immediate attention to find strategies to eliminate the situation that has become rampant because it has become a social and health problem. The U.S. government should strategize and find out ways that teen pregnancy can be reduced or stopped. If teen pregnancy reduces, there can be high reduction in the children that live in poverty. The problem can be tackled by practicing prevention because it is better than cure. Schools should also have teen pregnancy prevention programs in schools from an early age; parents should be encouraged to educate their children as they grow up. The government will also reduce the costs that taxpayers have to lose by catering for these pregnant teenagers.