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Teenage Pregnancy: Is it a growing

epidemic?

by: Emily Owen


Teen pregnancy is an enormous problem and spreading in

America. According to Guttmacher Institute the latest U.S. teen

pregnancy rates revealed show that there are about 72 pregnancies

per 1000 women aged 15-19 and the teenage birthrate in 2006 was

about 50 births per 1000 women. That is 4% higher than in 2005 ( U.S.

Teenage Pregnancies, Births and abortions ). There are at least 5 TV

shows featuring teen pregnancies, or teen mothers including "Teen

Mom", and "Sixteen and Pregnant". Changing the channel can’t be

done without seeing an add from one of the teen shows or an above

the influence add, saying to use protection or not have sex at all. Not

only is adolescent pregnancy prevalent on TV but also in the news

stands. The stars of these TV shows are now on the covers of people

magazine, OK magazine, and even teen magazines like Seventeen and

Teen Vogue which is highly glamorizing the subject. The covers say

things like, Amber lost 12 pounds in two weeks! or Macy’s new

makeover and new man!

Most teenagers don’t deal with makeovers or being on the cover

of national magazines for losing weight and shouldn’t be encouraged

to get pregnant to get a reward like being on a magazine cover or TV

show based on their lives. It is so accepted in this society that some

high schools are now equipped with nurseries for the teens to drop off

their children while they finish class. (Harrison High School Nursery,

whsv.com ) It is a good, and positive thing that they will be able to


finish school; on the other hand, it also means the school has too many

teen pregnancies and that the school isn’t teaching effective sex

education well if they need an entire nursery and need to hire a

teacher for the nursery. Today’s society has so many options, there

shouldn’t be any teen pregnancies. From free birth control at planned

parenthood, to a new form of birth control called Plan B or The morning

After pill, so if any form of birth control was forgotten, there can be no

chance of being pregnant. Of course the most effective form of birth

control would be abstinence. With all of the education, resources, and

campaigns one would think the current generation of teenagers would

have a better decision making skills and know there are so many

options for them to use, rather than just acting on a whim.

According to Unicef The United States has the highest adolescent

pregnancy rate in the world, with the U.K. as a close second (Teenage

Birth Rate [most recent] by Country, nationmaster.com). Both societies

are very media based. This could be one reason why their teen

pregnancy rates are so high, but ours especially. Society is so revolved

around famous people, that the local news stations even air celebrity

news. There are bad influences everywhere, suggestive songs all over

the radio, and awful articles, websites, pictures, and videos streaming

all over the Internet. One of the most controversial songs on the radio

is glamorizing sex as a teen, which could obviously lead to teen

pregnancy. The lyrics are “Let’s go all the way tonight, no regrets, just
love... you make me feel like I’m living a teenage dream” (Katy Perry,

Teenage dream). This is the perfect example of society’s main stream

icons expressing ideas that shouldn’t be in kids' ideals or accepted by

kids. There are also those icons in society that mean well, but are not

helping much. Bristol Palin is one of them. In a recent interview, she

said, “While it was unrealistic to expect teens to refrain from sex, they

should at least follow careful contraception practices. Abstinence is

realistic, and [Not having sex] is the safest choice.” (Bristol Palin Talks

about ten pregnancy, politics.usnews.com) But what media doesn’t

realize is that her being on the covers of magazines as well as the

other teen moms she is also glamorizing teen pregnancy, and her

recent appearance on "Dancing With the Stars" is also a great example

of glamorization. I don't think she should be known as a star for being

the pregnant teenage daughter of the governer of Alaska.

Not only is the media glamorizing teen pregnancy with all of its

television shows and magazine covers, but our government is holding

back our progress as well. When President Bush was in office, he gave

$100 million dollars to fund abstinence-only programs, which means

only programs that told teens to not have sex were being funded with

that money. The new budget passed in 2010 by President Obama gives

$50 million in funds for states to use for teen pregnancy prevention

programs (Obama budget eliminates funding, health.usnews.com),

which will fund any pregnancy prevention organization, including those


that encourage the use of contraceptives, instead of only funding

abstinence-only programs. This is good because as much as adults try

to stop teens from having sex, they won’t. Although the government is

beginning to get on the right track with funding, the government isn't

funding enough. We spend billions of dollars a year paying for teenage

pregnancies, but we only use millions on prevention programs (Teen

Pregnancy Statistics, pregnantteenhelp.org). So while millions of

teenagers are having babies paid for by the government, We are losing

funding to prevent the reckless mistakes teens make that cause the

U.S. to lose so much money a year.

Teens don’t think before they act, which is another reason why

our country has so many cases of teen pregnancy. As most teens will

agree, there is no sense of responsibility. Teens like to do stupid things

like drink obscene amounts at parties, smoke things they shouldn’t just

because they were told not to, and ultimately defy everything they’ve

been taught, including having sex. They often think of themselves as

invincible, and that nothing bad could happen to them. This is

obviously untrue. When they have sex they don’t think about the

consequences that could arise if they do become pregnant. Not only is

it risky for the baby’s sake but Their own futures as well. They don’t

know that teen mothers are more likely to receive late or no prenatal

care, which is why teens are more likely to have low-birth-weight

babies. ( guttmacher.org/pubs/FB-ATSRH.html , childbearing) They also


don’t understand that low birth weight could kill a baby. Not only are

the babies at risk but the mother’s futures are too. Two out of three

teen mom’s will not graduate from high school, and are more likely to

end up in the poverty bracket. (Teen Pregnancy Statistics,

pregnantteenhelp.org) This puts both the mother and the child at risk

of not having food or a vehicle or a house. They could end up being

homeless, hungry, and jobless, and all because of one stupid mistake.

What most teens don't realize are the effects that they will make

on their children. If a single teen mom has to raise her baby on food

stamps and minimum wage, the food she feeds her child won't be the

best. Most mothers at a young age don't know what foods are best for

her baby. Her baby could be malnourished and dehydrated and she

wouldn't know it. Because she didn't get the chance to graduate high

school, she would have an awful time searching for jobs, never

knowing what it would pay or if she would get it because the job she

applied for might not accept high school drop outs. If she has a

boyfriend or a father figure for the baby, it will also be hard, but it will

be helpful. According to and experiment funded by The Ford

Foundation, 400 teen fathers were surveyed in a two year period. 82%

reported having daily contact with their children; 74% said they

contributed to the child's financial support. Almost 90% maintained a

relationship. (Teenage Fathers, time.com).


Teenage mothers also don't understand what impact they will

make on they're ancestors and family. The women of our country, and

even of the world have fought for such a long time for equal

opportunities for women. Women throughout time have fought so

incredibly hard for us to be able to go to college and see the world, and

get an education, because they couldn't. They were frowned upon,

laughed at and even hurt to try and make us a better future. When

today's generation wastes their futures on a boy, and throw their

education out the window because they became pregnant, it

disappoints the women of the past that risked their lives to give every

girl the opportunity she has today. College's depend on finished high

school classes, and a diploma, which two thirds of pregnant teenagers

don't have. The fight that was fought for these girls was hard, and

most of the girls don't acknowledge that there was ever a time when

they couldn't go to college, or have a career other than a mother or a

teacher. It used to be a good thing to be a mother at a young age, and

it was expected of young women to be married and have a baby as a

teenager, and now that girls have a choice they choose the way

they're ancestors tried to keep them from.

Teen pregnancy has been so stressed lately that more people

have been realizing the problems our society faces. Ten percent of all

U.S. births are to teens (U.S. Teenager Pregnancies, births and

abortions, guttmacher.org) but only 21 states and The District of


Columbia allow all minors to consent to contraceptive services without

a parent’s involvement, and only two require consent. ( U.S. Teenager

Pregnancies, births and abortions, guttmacher.org). That means, in

over half the states, there are limited ways for teens to obtain

adequate birth control. If there is no birth control, how do they expect

teen pregnancy rates to go down. Some states think that not selling

contraceptives to minors will stop them from having sex, but this is

unfortunately and ultimately untrue. This could be another factor of

our once again rising teen pregnancy rate.

Although, not all teens are too irresponsible to practice

abstinence, the ones that do not practice abstinence need to learn how

to stay protected. There is an organization called true love waits. They

exercise abstinence through rings. They use "purity rings" and express

their views of their religion through their abstinence. They believe that

god will be happier and ultimately help their way to heaven more if

they stay abstinent (lifeway.com/tlw/students/) . This is a great help

towards the fight against teen pregnancy and the people that help

spread the word about this great organization are helping reduce the

number of teen pregnancies, and aren't ever alone in their striving to

be better followers of their faith.

The abstinence-only approach is a good start to teaching

pregnancy prevention, but what goes along with the carelessness of


teenagers is defiance. Teens will never stop having sex, and they need

to learn how not to get pregnant so they aren't able to become

pregnant. We need more programs for middle school age children

through high school, teaching them about what can happen if they

have unprotected sex. In some middle schools there is a small course

on STD's but there is not a thorough discussion on what ultimately

could happen. There is also a course in most high schools about sex

education, but it should be less brief. Teens need to know they have

options and that if they ever do make a mistake, they aren't alone.

They need to know that there is a place that will give them free birth

control so if anything does happen, they will be sure of their safety and

to understand that whenever they do have sex, it's giving a little piece

of yourself away, and that abstinence is their best bet to never be

heartbroken severely , get pregnant or any diseases.

Sarah Owen, a mother of a two year old, at 22 years old, knows

what it is like to be a pregnant teenager, and all the struggles that are

faced. She was nineteen when she found out she was pregnant with

her daughter Olivia. Although it was planned,she does somewhat

regret having her daughter at such a young age. She married her

boyfriend at the time, and later divorced him for infidelity on his part.

When asked if she could change her decision to have Olivia, she said

“Yes and no. Yes because I like that I can be a current young mom and

relate to her in that way, but I don’t like being financially unstable.”
She says she lost all of her friends, because she sees that she needed

to be a responsible parent. “They still party, and I don’t, but I’m glad I

don’t. It’s not cool.” Although she had a rough patch, things are looking

up for her now. She is currently attending Aveda Cosmetology Institute

and training to be a hairstylist. She has a boyfriend of about a year and

Olivia is healthy and happy. Although this is a story that ends well,

some teens, aren’t as lucky. The younger they get, the more severe

the stories become, and not everyone has a grandmother or a mom

willing to help with thier babies. Not all parents are as supportive, and

caring.

All in all teenage pregnancy is on the rise. It is 4% higher than in

2005 ( U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and abortions ) America has

plenty of ways to prevent this epidemic, and we know the

consequences, but it still begins to grow. America has the highest

pregnancy rate in the world, and a lot that has to do with it is the over-

glamorization of teen pregnancy. From the reality television shows, to

the pregnant girls on television getting paid millions of dollars for being

on the show. The magazine covers will keep growing with teenage

stars having a pregnancy scare, or being pregnant. If we could educate

the generation of teenagers more on ways to prevent pregnancy, and

the consequences that could unveil if teens aren't cautious. If we could

show teens that their futures could be ruined by dropping out of high

school and giving their all to try and provide for their kids. Teens as a
whole will never stop having sex, but if we could get a majority to

exercise abstinence, we might be able to stop the growing epidemic.

America needs teens to be more aware of the past and to respect

boundaries set by their parents and guardians for a reason. Parents

aren't trying to make anyone angry or trying to stop anyone 's fun.

They know what's best and are looking out for their kid's best interest.

They don't want their daughter to end up heartbroken, and jobless with

a two week old, and they don't want their son supporting a family on

minimum wage, struggling to even get food for himself. Teens need to

realize they don't own the world, and it shouldn't matter if they're

favorite television show about teen moms is casting. Being a pregnant

teen isn't glamorous and it shouldn't be portrayed that way. Along with

the severe pain one would experience, physically and mentally and the

risk for the child, there should not be any teen pregnancies. What can

teens do? They can educate themselves, make better decisions, and

try their hardest, to either be safe, or not have sex at all.