Over the years, teen pregnancy has become somewhat of an epidemic. In the 1970’s, 1980’s, and even in the early 1990’s, teenagers rarely got pregnant, and when they did, it was almost frowned upon. Statistics now show, that three out of ten teenage girls in the United States will get pregnant at least once, before they turn twenty years old. That equals to over 700,000 teenage pregnancies per year. The media has tried to show young girls that getting pregnant in high school is not as easy as these girls think. Movies, and television shows, such as MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, and Teen Mom document the lives of teenage mothers, and the difficulties that they face. In order to stop the epidemic of teenage pregnancy, it is important to arm our teenagers with the cold hard facts of teenage pregnancy.
You can be a great student, you can love school, however, a teen pregnancy can disrupt your education, as well as your plans for the future. Pregnancy and parenthood is the leading reasons why teenage girls drop out of school. For many girls, being a mother and trying to go to school is too much to handle all at one. Less than half of the teenage mothers ever graduate from high school, and less than two percent earn a degree before they are thirty years old. A teenage girl who imagined herself heading to college right out of high school, and starting her career by age twenty two, will find that those plans are no longer possible after having a baby.
Statistics show that one fourth of teenagers who have had a child, will have another child within two years of their first child’s birth. This can put plans for finishing school, going to college, and starting a career on the back burner. When a teenage mother has a job to support her family, after the second pregnancy, she will likely need to leave the job, and it will be very difficult to go back to work after having the second child.
Being a Family?
Some teenage girls think that a pregnancy will make their relationship with the baby’s father stronger. They also think that a baby will force the father to stay in the relationship. This is usually not true. Statistics show that eight out of ten teenage fathers do not marry their child’s mother. Many of these fathers cannot afford to pay child support, because they are teenagers as well. While teenage girls are not ready to become mothers, teenage boys are not ready to become fathers. In most cases, having the child causes more problems in an already troubled relationship.
After the baby comes, money is a huge issue in relationships. Money problems can tear the parents apart. Also, responsibility is a factor in the breakdown of a relationship. Since both parents are young, and realistically immature, both will want to continue to have a social life. Unfortunately, when the baby comes, that is no longer an option. One parent has to be responsible and take care of the baby. In most cases, the mother takes on the brunt of the responsibility, and the father will try to continue living the life he did before the baby came. This almost always leads to the end of the relationship. A baby is never the way to keep a teen relationship healthy.
The Child’s Future
There are lasting effects of teenage pregnancy which effect the teen mom’s future children. Depending on how much support a teenage mother has from her family, most end up poor after having their first child. More than half of the mothers that are collecting any form of state assistance, had their first child in their teens. Statistics show, that two thirds of families that were started by parents in their teens end up poor. Children who do not live with both parents are five times more likely to end up on state assistance than those who lived with both parents.
Studies show that children of teenage mothers do worse in school than those who were born to older parents. Statistics show that children of teen mothers are fifty percent more likely to repeat a grade, and are less likely to complete high school, than those who were born to mothers in their mid twenties, early thirties.
When daughters born to teenage mothers are teenagers themselves, they are three times more likely to become pregnant before they turn twenty years old. Sons born to teenage mothers are twice as likely to end up in prison before they turn thirty years old.
Teenage pregnancy statistics are upsetting, to say the least. Getting pregnant is not a good situation for any teenager, regardless of her situation. It is up to parents, educators, and even the media, to educate teenagers on the risks of teen pregnancy, and the consequences.
Parents should begin discussing safe sex, and teenage pregnancy with their children at a very young age. While discussing these topics with a twelve year old was considered inappropriate and unnecessary decades ago, it is imperative now. Parents should stress the value of waiting to have sex for the first time, however, they should also not be naive. The parent who thinks that their child does not need “the talk”, because they are more responsible than that, are the parents who become grandparents at a very early age. Parents should not be afraid to talk to their children about sex, and offer condoms, or other form of birth control.
While it is a parent’s responsibility to discuss sex, and teen pregnancy with their children, the school also has a responsibility. Having children take sex education classes is the first step. Educators should keep the lines of communication open so that students can come to them if there is a problem. Especially the students who do not have that type of communication at home.
Certain media outlets believe that it is not their responsibility to educate children, while others make it their goal to educate and prevent teen pregnancy. Teenage pregnancy articles, and teenage pregnancy stories have had an impact on how teenage girls feel about getting pregnant. When MTV created their two shows, 16 and Pregnant, and Teen Mom, they were not trying to sensationalize teen pregnancy. The point of these shows were to show teenagers what being a teen mother is really like. These shows allow teenagers to see how difficult a pregnancy really can be. They document what the pregnancy does to the mother’s body, her family relationship, her romantic relationship, and her social life. These shows are almost created to scare teenagers into practicing safe sex. Studies have shown that the amount of teen pregnancies has actually dropped. A recent study has shown that eighteen months after 16 and Pregnant debuted, there was a 5.7% reduction in teenage births. In 2011, before the show’s popularity, 329,727 babies were born to girls between fifteen and nineteen years old. That is a rate of 31.3 births for every 1000 girls. In 2012, following the show’s popularity, that number has dropped to 29.4 pregnancies for every 1000 girls. While teen pregnancy is still an epidemic, it is good to know that the media is accepting their responsibility in educating teens.
Teenage pregnancy is never an easy thing to handle. It is difficult for the parents of the child and for the child later on in life. Education is the first way to prevent teenage pregnancy. The more teenagers know and understand about teen pregnancy, there is a less chance that they will become teen parents themselves. Knowing all they can about teenage pregnancy facts, will make teens think twice before having unsafe sex.