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Teenage pregnancy is a social problem that has existed for a long time. An estimated number of four out of ten girls in the U.S. have one or even more children before the age of twenty years. That is the highest rate of teenage pregnancy of all the developed nations. Sixty out of every 1000 teenage girls deliver a baby each year (prcdc 1). This is in exclusion of miscarriages and abortions. The U.S. society pays billions of dollars due to teen pregnancy and births. This paper discusses the use of contraceptives, advocating for zero tolerance on violence against women and girls, working with boys and families to promote the respect for females’ rights and promoting girls’ education and opportunities as the possible solutions to the problem of teenage pregnancy in the U.S.
Many teenagers engage in bad social behavior such as drugs, sexual misconduct and negative peer pressure, if they have low levels of education. Advocating for good education opportunities for both genders is one of the main solutions to the teenage pregnancy problem in the U.S. This includes helping young adults, including those in the foster care, to continue their education, developing programs that address teens’ specific needs and that includes sex education in all grades. A study done by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL p1-6) indicates that teen mothers are more likely to have poor health and less education. The article recognizes that healthy developments for the adolescents is highly related to positive peer pressure, family support, safer communities, schools and effective education among others.
Secondly, family support and parental involvement is crucial. However, those teens in foster families do not benefit from such intervention. Teen girls who do not live with their parents are more likely to begin having intercourse at an early age than those living with at least one of their biological parents. The transition from foster care to independent living is a critical intervention point. NCSL indicates that almost one third of girls in foster care is conceived at least once by their 17th birthday (NCSL 2). States should provide more stability and strong support network for the foster youth by offering them job placement assistance, educational programs and housing vouchers.
In the U.S., unlike other developed countries, the issue of teenage pregnancy has been addressed from a political and religious point of view. This is a serious problem to the parents, teenage girls, taxpayers and the country at large. Research related to teen pregnancy and its prevention should therefore be encouraged rather than relying on political interventions. This would produce better outcomes for the teenagers. It is crucial to keep in mind the large diversity of cultures that exists in the U.S. This means that extensive research should be done on how each culture perceives sexuality and how to best address these issues for each of them. It should be noted that values relating to gender and sexuality differ among the diverse cultures. Research should be emphasized as the basis for public health policy. Religious and political interest groups do not have much influence on public health policies (Rights. Respect. Responsibility 1).
Bolstering self-esteem and positive peer pressure among teens should also be encouraged. Increased self-confidence will prevent youths from being pressured into agreeing to unwanted sex. Carrying out youth development programs to help them plan their future and aid them to explore career opportunities will help them see how undesirable early pregnancy is for them (Battle Creek, MI 5). After-school programs, recreational activities and self-esteem workshops will address this.
The use of contraceptives by sexually-active teenagers is advocated as a solution to alleviate teenage pregnancy. Using contraceptives such as condoms and pills could definitely reduce the cases of teenage pregnancies. However, other risks still prevail including sexually transmitted diseases as the contraception methods are not completely effective. Advocating, campaigning and providing contraception among teens would encourage them to continue their sexual activity. They percept it to be normal as their seniors promote it (Rights. Respect. Responsibility 1). Therefore, the government should provide access to contraceptives for youth. However, the use of contraceptives should be the last resort. United States should deal with the root of this problem.
In addition, abstinence is highly encouraged among teens. Abstinence education is used to effectively increase knowledge and instill values associated with delayed sexual activity. Many parents, some federal grant programs and faith community prefer the abstinence education strategy. While it is practically the best method to prevent both pregnancy and STDs, it seems almost impossible to be exercised. A study (Battle Creek MI 5) shows that abstinence-only programs have not delayed sexual activity that used it as the only appropriate choice for teenagers. It is important to understand psychology of people at the teen age. They become more sexually active as they grow up due to the current civilization and the way media and the Internet is exposing sex. Intimate sexual relationships are normal and natural for older adolescents and safe sex should be encouraged as well (Rights. Respect. Responsibility. 1).
In conclusion, there is no single program or remedy to prevent all unplanned teenage pregnancies. No single solution or program exists that would effectively prevent pregnancy for various groups of teens. Family support, effective education, positive peer pressure, safe school and communities are among the healthy developments for adolescents. Programs and solutions that promote these healthy developments are the only solutions to teenage pregnancy problems. From the above study it can be concluded that work with boys and families to promote the respect for females’ rights and promoting girls’ education and opportunities, bolstering self esteem among youths, investing in intensive research on teen pregnancy and prevention are the possible solutions to the teenage pregnancy problems in the United States.